Following a repeal made by Governor Jay Nixon in 2009 regarding Missouri’s helmet law requirements, new action has been ignited as the proposal has moved forward. On Thursday, HB 1464 was passed by the state House in a vote of 103-43. Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, plans to circumvent future vetoes aggressively.
Although there were members who were not in attendance, Richardson is optimistic. He credits much of his enthusiasm to the way Representative Eric Burleson has handled some of the past opponents of the bill. He has spent time working with them to make them more keen on the idea. Since 2013, he has been a strong supporter of the bill. He did, however, introduce the inclusion of the requirement of insurance for riders who don’t use helmets.
Burleson is a strong believer in liberty, and he feels it’s up to the cyclist whether or not they choose to wear a helmet. Before the vote, he said, “Are we the ones that tell people, ‘you should not be running with scissors? “We are entrusted with people’s liberty…let’s not take it from them because we think we know better than they do.'”
However, opponents bring up valid arguments. Injuries to the head are financially burdensome to both victims and their families, and it just makes sense to require the use of a helmet when operating a motorized bike.
Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, is currently not hinting at any indication regarding whether or not the bill will make it as far as the Senate. The decision is currently in the hands of the Missouri Senate.
First round approval was granted by the Missouri House, and this spurred a reaction from dissenters. Burleson sponsored House Bill 1464. This allows riders who are at least 21 years of age and have a minimum of $50,000 worth of health insurance coverage the right to ride without a helmet. He argued that many riders are veterans who fought for the country. Both they and other riders have the right to enjoy the freedoms they put their lives on the line for.
Opponents, however, feel Burleson is overlooking the reality of the potential consequences. Representative Sue Meredith, D-St. Louis, stated, “Now, I understand the freedom, but the wind in your hair, I don’t get it.” She argued that the average age of motorcycle riders who suffer from head injuries are between the ages of 45 and 55. She said, “This is at a time in your life when you have a family to support, you have college-age kids, (and) there are a lot of economic issues. It’s not a personal choice; it’s a family choice, (and) your family is going to have to take care of you if you have an accident, be it a skinned knee or a head injury.”