Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Law Sought

Times Staff Writer

California's law requiring adult motorcycle riders to wear safety helmets would be repealed under legislation that has been introduced in the Assembly.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), the bill (AB 373) would still require motorcycle riders under the age of 21 to wear helmets.

When he signed the law in 1992 after nearly three decades of legislative debate, Gov. Pete Wilson said, "Simply put, this bill will save lives." The law is intended to reduce deaths and head injuries caused by motorcycle accidents.

Motorcyclists have held rallies on the Capitol steps every year since, urging its repeal and arguing that helmets are a freedom of choice issue.

"The mandatory helmet law for adults represents a dramatic and largely unprecedented intrusion into the arena of individual rights," Morrow said. "It is simply wrong for the government to dictate to individuals on an issue of purely personal choice."

ASSEMBLY

Floor Action

* Los Angeles Rams: Defeated by a 32-13 vote a resolution (SCR 5) by Sen. John Lewis (O-Orange) urging National Football League owners to vote to keep the Los Angeles Rams franchise in Anaheim rather than letting it move to St. Louis. Forty-one votes were required to approval. Reconsideration is being requested.

Bill Introductions

* Conjugal Visits: AB 411 by Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro Jr. (R-Paso Robles) would prohibit conjugal visits for state prison inmates who have been convicted of murder, manslaughter, sex offenses or other crimes calling for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

* HIV Crimes: AB 380 by Assemblywoman Paula Boland (R-Granada Hills) would impose life sentences without the possibility of parole for people convicted of committing rape and other sexual crimes while knowingly infected with HIV.

* Affirmative Action: AB 384 by Assemblyman Bernie Richter (R-Chico) would repeal state laws that require companies receiving public contracts to subcontract a certain percentage of work to firms owned by women, minorities or disabled veterans.

* Bad Checks: AB 522 by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar) would increase the amount of money that business owners can collect from bad check writers from $500 to $1,500.

* English Only: AB 440 by Assemblyman George House (R-Hughson) would authorize parents to remove their children from any school class that is not taught entirely in English.

* Absentee Voters: AB 500 by Assemblywoman Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey) would allow registered voters to apply for permanent absentee voter status to encourage more voter participation in elections.

SENATE

Floor Action

* Long Beach Shipyard: Granted final legislative approval on a 33-0 vote to a resolution (AJR 5) by Assemblyman Willard H. Murray Jr. (D-Paramount) requesting President Clinton and Congress not to close the Long Beach Naval Shipyard because of the financial hardships and loss of jobs that would result.

Bill Introductions

* School Tests: SB 430 by Sen. Leroy Greene (D-Carmichael) would prohibit the administration of tests in primary and secondary schools from asking questions regarding a student's beliefs or practices in personal matters such as family life and religion without parental permission.

* New Prison: SB 393 by Sen. Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield) would authorize construction of a 2,544-bed prison with a 100-bed support facility in the city of Adelanto in San Bernardino County.

* Drug Abuse: SB 384 by Sen. Ray Haynes (R-Riverside) would require the courts to consider the illegal use of drugs or a history of alcohol abuse by either parent in deciding child custody disputes.

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