You Win Some, You Lose Some

Posted on March 26, 2018 · Posted in General

I wish we had better news to report about LB 1009, the bill sponsored by Senator John Murante from Gretna that would increase speed limits on Nebraska roads.  Unfortunately, the efforts of the safety minded advocates of the state seem to have fallen short.

As you may remember, this bill came before the Transportation and Telecommuications Commitee on Febrary 6.  NeBA joined with safety heavy weights AAA Nebraska, Nebraska Safety Council, and the National Safety Council-Nebraska to testify against the bill.  Representatives from the trucking industry also testified in opposition.  Nonetheless, the bill was voted out of committee with only 1 dissenting vote (Sen. Jim Smith).

The bill finally made it to the floor for debate on March 21 and an amendment was introduced by Senator Smith that removed all language pertaining to increasing the speed limit on the interstate.  Based on the debate, this amendment seemed to be what many senators needed to have to feel comfortable with the bill.  In the end, the vote was 35-2 (with 9 present but not voting) to move the bill to the next round (Select File).  As it stands, speed limits would remain the same on the interstate but would still increase on state highways.

We were obviously disappointed with the vote, and especially disappointed to see several senators normally friendly to bicyclists voting in favor.

Although there is another round of debate on Select File, and therefore a chance to perhaps change some minds, we are electing to let this go.  In Tour de France terms, given the 35-2 vote in the first round, we are facing a mountain stage into the wind with low pressure in our tires.  Second, several members of the “heavy weight safety coaltion” described above are also backing off, leaving us without a peloton to help block the wind and share the work.

For the record, we remain skeptical about the politics and motiviation behind this bill.  (You can read our original post about all of the red flags that we encountered here: “LB 1009: Speeding Towards Bad Policy.” )  We’ll continue to stay engaged with NDOT so that we can work collaboratively on issues that improve safety for people on bikes.