Kids get to ride appropriate-sized dirt bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles, dealers can continue to sell youth-sized off-road vehicles and trails will likely continue to be funded. A major player in those good things happening was honored Friday with a powersports-market award normally honored for industry insiders, not politicians.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was presented with the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) Chairman’s Award Friday afternoon, April 13, at a large ceremony at the Polaris Industries headquarters in Medina, Minn.
Klobuchar, a Democrat, was a sponsor of legislation that eventually exempted youth-focused ATVs, snowmobiles and dirt bikes from the Consumer Product Safety Improment Act -- commonly referred to as “The Lead Law.” It was a law enacted mainly in response to high levels of lead and other toxins found primarily in Chinese-built toys. However, language added to the law resulted in powersports products being lumped into a law original intended for small toys, and the overbroad law aimed at keeping lead out of children’s toys.
“Our industry and products were caught up in a law that had very good intentions indeed,” MIC Chairman Larry Little said Friday. He said it literally took “an act of Congress” led by Klobuchar in the Senate and U.S. Reb Mary Bono Mack (a Republican from California), to adapt a popular law “that many heralded as the simple most important law to protect children in decades.”
Adapting that law was certainly important for the powersports business (mainly manufacturers and dealers) who, for a couple of years, were prohibited from selling most youth-sized snowmobiles, ATVs and dirt bikes, but it also “will help protect children” by making appropriately sized machines available once more and keeping kids off of large machines until they are older.
In accepting the award, Klobuchar noted that the adaption to the bill was needed after the original law got twisted during its process of being passed through Congress.
“The things that were bad about the bill were added at the very end,” Klobuchar stated. In fact, she said, the language in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate-approved bills didn’t include anything about powersports vehicles or bicycles. When those two bills were merged in what’s called a conference committee, however, staff members added the powersports products to the list, and the amended bill was passed through Congress without anybody catching the addition.
Changing that law wasn’t easy, however, because some folks saw the adaption as “weakening” the original bill, while others wanted to through out the engine lead law, Klobuchar said. In the end, however, smarter heads prevailed, she said.
“In this Congress where, if you haven’t noticed, it’s very difficult to get much done,” Klobuchar said, “we worked with both sides of the isle – Democrats and Republicans – and in that way it was very fun to work on.”
Klobuchar was also honored for her sponsorship of a Senate amendment that calls for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) to remain a part of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The RTP allows federal gas tax monies collected from off-road recreation to go back to the states in the form of grants to fund the snowmobile and off-road trails that are so vital to off-road recreation.
Klobuchar noted that, while the U.S. Senate approved their version, the final transportation funding bill is still hung up in the U.S. House of Representatives. She said she is confident, however, that it will all get done this spring.
Below is a press release about the event at the Polaris headquarters.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar Presented with MIC Chairman’s Award
Recognized for Crucial Lead Ban and Recreational Trail Program Efforts
MEDINA, Minn., April 13, 2012 – Amy Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota, became the latest recipient of the Motorcycle Industry Council Chairman’s Award today for her invaluable efforts in stopping the ban on youth ATVs and dirt bikes, and for saving the Recreational Trails Program.
For more than two years, the powersports industry was banned from selling youth sized ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles, inadvertently swept up in comprehensive legislation known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act – a law intended to protect children from harmful lead content in toys.
“When our industry needed a champion, she rose to the occasion, worked with her colleagues, and led the effort to ensure that youth ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles were excluded from the law,” said MIC Chairman Larry Little, who is also the vice president and general manager of the motorcycle group for Marketplace Events.
Minnesota manufacturer Polaris, and President and Chief Operating Officer Bennett J. Morgan, hosted the award presentation at the firm’s Medina headquarters, just west of Minneapolis. Both Morgan and Little also recognized Klobuchar for her work on a critical amendment to the transportation reauthorization legislation known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
“Once again, Senator Klobuchar was there to look out for our interests, and the interests of all trail users,” Little said. “She introduced an amendment to restore the Recreational Trails Program and worked diligently to secure the broad support necessary to ensure that it was accepted by her colleagues.”
The former chief prosecutor of the state’s largest county, Klobuchar was elected in 2006 to become the first woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. She is the 41st recipient of the MIC Chairman’s Award, which honors those who have made significant contributions to the world of powersports.
The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, business advisories and forecasts, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts and accessories, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.
The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at www.mic.org.