Nanny State rides again thanks to NH State Rep Skip Cleaver - Granite Grok

Nanny State rides again thanks to NH State Rep Skip Cleaver

motorcycle helmet

Another one of these “Safety & Security vs Freedom” issues and we generally know where Democrats fall on that phrase (although the result might be a bit surprising).

I’ve had two quotes going on in the deep recesses of my mind since seeing the piece at the Laconia Daily Sun concerning, once again, making motorcyclists (and originally, bicyclers as well) wear helmets as a result of HB 1621:

  • NH State Rep Skip Cleaver: “You give up freedom for the sake of preventing injury and death. The ultimate freedom is life.”
  • NH State Rep Ralph Boem: “We are responsible for our own safety,” he said, joking that it’s best to stay in bed. “Please, allow us to protect our rights and protect ourselves,” he said.

I dryly note the “You give up“. I’m sorry, he’s lying at worst and “chest puffing” at best.  I don’t give up Freedom. My son, who does ride, doesn’t either. Cleaver is hiding that he’s using the force of Government to TAKE Freedom – quantified by choice. By taking that choice away, he continues the Chinese water torture (hey, Travis R Morin, are you listening – is that racist, too?) of The State (and Democrats) of infringing on our freedoms one slice at a time.

In effect, Cleaver is saying we are TOO STUPID to look out for ourselves (“preventing injury and death“). Who’s the the stupid one here, though; while he proclaims that the “ultimate freedom is life“, he covers up what he’s doing under the rubric of “safety & security”.  Working both ends from the middle FOR the State and AGAINST we citizens.

Too often, we hear this and it always turns into: Trust us; we’re only looking out for your best interest” by the people who hold this Power simply by dint of receiving just one more vote than the other guy. An attitude that Government MUST be in charge – even in the littlest of things.

Which is why our Founders designed a philosophy advocating for a Limited Government outlook – anathema to Progressives / Socialists.

And Cleaver is one of them. They are constitutionally (/sarc) unable to leave the rest of us alone.

The Transportation Committee did recommend that HB1621 be ITL’d (Inexpedient to Legislate – a “kill it” recommendation). However, the Democrat controlled House, once again acting on the impulse that EVERY State be set up to be the exact same, no Freedom to be different even here in the Live Free or Die State, as absolutely being in lockstep

Gee, where have I seen “lockstep” actually used?

The entire Sun piece is below (reformatted, emphasis mine):


If testimony during a hearing before the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday is any indication, New Hampshire is not ready for helmet law. Transportation Committee Chair George Sykes announced that 259 people signed up to testify in opposition to the bill, while only four planned to support it. As written, the bill would require riders of motorcycles, electric bicycles, mopeds, and bicycles to wear protective headgear, with fines of up to $50 for failure to comply.  Rep. Skip Cleaver, who sponsored the bill, announced that an amendment would remove the requirement for bicyclists, but the committee has not yet voted on the amendment.

“I’m pleased this bill has engendered so much interest,” Cleaver said in introductory remarks before the crowd that nearly filled the House Chamber. ‘It’s good for democracy.”

The bill reflects studies that concluded helmets would save lives and prevent serious injuries while also providing “billions” in savings, he said, citing statistics such as a 40 percent decrease in the number of deaths and a 60 percent reduction in traumatic brain injuries, as well as savings in lost income and medical expenses. Responding to those who object to the loss of freedom of choice, Cleaver said, “You give up freedom for the sake of preventing injury and death. The ultimate freedom is life.”

Most of the speakers, however — whether or not they agreed that helmets would save lives — argued that it should remain a personal choice. Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry said, “As an old Marine, to us, this is feel-good legislation to take away our rights.” He said people come to New Hampshire because of its freedoms, and said people should take personal responsibility.  Several speakers talked about the importance of preserving the freedoms that veterans fought to protect. Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, who also serves as a Coos County commissioner, thanked Reps. Sherman Packard and Charlie St. Clair for “your years of service in this area” and said if the helmet bill passes, it would be trashing the state motto.

Economic impact

Jennifer Anderson spoke both personally and professionally in her position with the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, saying she fully supports any rider’s decision to wear a helmet, but that requiring a helmet would reduce the number of riders and, therefore the taxes the state collects. “Three hundred thousand motorcyclists attend Motorcycle Week,” she said, calling it the largest multi-day event in the state of New Hampshire. Two-thirds of those attending are from out of state. She said Rooms and Meals revenue to the state increases by 13 percent during the rally, amounting to $28 million, and for the month of June (when the rally takes place), the state collects $196 million.  In states that have enacted helmet laws, motorcycle registrations have fallen by 50 percent, and those that eliminate helmet requirements see registrations double.

Herb Murphy of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, stopped short of saying he would not come to New Hampshire if it enacted a helmet law, but said it would be a factor in deciding. “There’s not a motorcycle rider in Maine who doesn’t know what you have here,” he said. “Let us come here and let us spend our money.”

Bill Murphy of Manchester earned a chastisement from the chairman by saying, “It’s entirely hypocritical to support the freedom of choice when taking the life of a baby, and allowing no choice on wearing a helmet.” He later took issue with the highway safety argument by saying, “New Hampshire leads the country in motorcycle ownership, but it’s the sixth safest state for riders.”

Safety arguments

Those favoring the bill cited statistics from 2013 to show that the loss of cognitive ability among those suffering head trauma from motorcycle accidents cost the state $3.6 million and, when lost wages and other things are taken into account, the economic impact is $25 million. Some questioned why, if helmets are so important, they dropped the requirements for bicycle helmets. They pointed to statistics showing that helmets are most effective when traveling at low speeds. Several committee members questioned speakers about claims that helmets dampened their hearing and eliminated peripheral sight. There was no consensus on those details, with some saying they were able to avoid accidents by not wearing helmets and using their senses; others said it more an issue of having the choice. Rep. Ralph Boehm of Litchfield testified about leading motorcycle groups in parades, ride-ins, and other events, and said it’s dangerous to wear a helmet in close quarters at slow speeds because of the need to interact with people.

We are responsible for our own safety,” he said, joking that it’s best to stay in bed. “Please, allow us to protect our rights and protect ourselves,” he said.

Rep. Benjamin Baroody of Manchester summed up the sentiment by saying, “A patriot’s hat or nothing at all.”