Helmet law passes Senate despite ‘no’ vote by Booher

LANSING — Despite a lack of unanimous partisan support from either party, a GOP sponsored bill repealing the law requiring motorcycle riders in Michigan to wear helmets was passed Wednesday by a margin of 24-14.

If signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder - which in itself is not guaranteed — the new bill would allow motorcycle riders 21-years of age and older to ride without helmets if they provide a $20,000 surety and meet certain training requirements or have a given level of experience on the roads.

The Republican sponsored bill was thought by some to have been ramrodded through the Senate - without considered deliberation, and without regard to the governor’s request that this action be undertaken as part of a broader review of Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws.

The bill (SB 720) was passed with wide-ranging support — including seven Democrats.

By that same token, those not supporting the bill and expressing concerns over it potential impact also crossed party lines.

State Senator Darwin Booher, R-Evart, of the 35th Senate District, was adamant in his refusal to support the bill.

“I voted “No” just as I’ve voted “No” the last four times this bill has come up for discussion,” said Booher.

“I believe this “No” vote was needed. I believe I was doing what was in the best interest of the people of my district and the people of this state.

“The bill passed nevertheless.

“Honestly, I’m disappointed.”

Booher said he voted against the bill both as a result of personal life experience, (having a friend who was saved in a motorcycle accident thanks to his wearing of a helmet), and also as a result of simple empirical evidence.

“Evidence shows that both seat belts and motorcycle helmets save lives in accidents,’ he said.

“Absolutely everything we’ve been shown demonstrates that not only do these two devices saves lives, they also tremendously reduce hospitalization, rehabilitation, recovery costs following an accident.

I believe that having these simple requirements in place are laws that simply are for the good of the people, and they should not be amended.

“Nobody is suggesting we repeal the seatbelt law. I don’t  know why the helmet law is any different.”

Booher noted he didn’t receive too much “flack” from constituents or colleagues following his “No” vote, largely because he has been consistent in voting against the proposed helmet repeal - both while in the House and now as State Senator.

While Booher was in the House of Representatives, former Governor Jennifer Granholm vetoed repeals of the helmet law requirement two times.

“I haven’t gotten too many comments,” reported Booher.

“If I do .. .fine. I voted as I thought was right, and I think repealing this law is wrong.”

In November, 2011, State Representative Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, 112 District, also voted “No” on action to repeal the helmet law.

The House bill passed, and was then sent on to the Senate where, as noted, senators approved repeal of the law on Wednesday.

It is not known when Gov. Snyder will take signing or vetoing of the helmet repeal under consideration.