Helmets For Motorcyclists

January 15, 1992

ANNAPOLIS — Three Carroll legislators are co-sponsors of companion bills in the House and Senate that would require motorcycle riders to wear helmetsin Maryland.

Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, and Sens. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, and Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, are supporting the legislation that hasbeen backed this year by Gov. William Donald Schaefer's administration.

LaMotte, along with several other Baltimore County delegates, hasbeen a main sponsor of the legislation for the past decade in the House. A strong motorcyclists' lobby has helped defeat the bill every year.

The bill would require both riders and operators of motorcycles to wear helmets, regardless of age.

The Governor's Commission on Efficiency and Economy in Government advised that the state could save an estimated $1.3 million in hospital treatment costs by requiring that helmets be worn. Many motorcyclists who suffer serious and costly injuries while not wearing a helmet are uninsured, which means taxpayers must subsidize their rehabilitation.

The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems estimates that taxpayers subsidize more than $16,000 for each rider injured while not wearing a helmet.

Also, a new federal highway law allows states to receive more transportation money if they have a mandatory helmet law.

Maryland's mandatory helmet law was repealed in 1979. Motorcycling groups have argued that wearing a helmet should be a matter of individual choice.

DELEGATION MEETING SET

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- The Carroll delegation plans to meet Thursday to discuss -- and possibly vote on -- legislation requested by the county commissioners, other county agencies and the Westminster mayor.

The six-member delegation must decide which legislative proposals it will sponsor or reject in the next few weeks so that the bills can be drafted.

The commissioners requested eight bills. Several of those have been opposed by the public and questioned by the delegation. They include bills that would:

* Require homeowners selling property within a half-mile of existing or planned mining to notify the prospective purchaser of that activity.

* Prohibit the giving away of live animals as prizes at events such as fire company carnivals or as inducements to enter amusements or games.

* Authorize the county to create a reserve fund-- not to exceed 5 percent of the operating budget -- for difficult economic times.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. in Room 324 of the Lowe Building.

ALTER SCHOLAR PROGRAM

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, is one of a host of sponsors of a bill aimed at reforming the legislature's scholarship award program.

The bill would abolish the current practice whereby delegates and senators are allocated money to award scholarships. Instead, the money would be appropriated to the General State Scholarship Program for disbursement.

Supporters of the bill, which has been defeated in the past, say the current program could be abused by legislators, who might award scholarships for reasonsother than those solely based on merit.

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