Indiana passes spinal cord injury fee for motorcyclists

Starting next month, motorcyclists in Indiana will have to pay an additional $10 for their annual license plate fee. The extra money will be used for brain and spinal cord injury research, which was signed by the governor as part of the state budget, according to the Post Tribune of Merrillville, Ind.

The fee slipped by unnoticed by most of the community and the governor himself.

At a June 22 news conference, Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Harley-Davidson rider, said he was not aware of the item when he signed the 253-page budget bill, but that even if he knew about it, “it wouldn’t have made any difference.”

Some motorcyclists are outraged by the fee and their lack of knowledge about it, so as a political statement, American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) leaders have been encouraging bike owners who have yet to register their license plates — about 53,000 — to register before the raised fees take effect.

The issue won’t dissipate, members say. At next year’s legislative session, ABATE of Indiana, which has a membership of 28,000, will push this “front-burner item” on its legislative agenda to either eliminate the fee or compromise, Jackson said.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency predicts the fees to rake in $1.6 million annually.

State Rep. Carolene Mays, a sponsor of the bill, said about 160,000 Indiana residents suffer from spinal cord or brain injuries, and the revenue will lead to new research on those conditions and enable the state to pursue a share of $50 million in federal research funding for such injuries.

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