At this rate, Gov. Rick Snyder is going to feel very old, very soon. It's up to him — as it has been on other issues — to be the adult in Lansing, this time to reject an attempt to repeal Michigan's motorcycle helmet law, which makes wearing a helmet mandatory.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm twice rejected similar bills, and Snyder had said he wanted to consider a repeal only in the context of broader auto insurance reform.
But Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville split the helmet issue away from no-fault, clearing the way for the Senate to pass the measure, which it did 24-14. The House had already approved it.
Despite overwhelming evidence that this is bad law, it keeps coming back. And there is no doubt this is bad law. The Insurance Institute of Michigan, which is of course protecting its own interests, has offered some compelling stuff.
• Motorcycle deaths and injuries are rising after the repeal of mandatory helmet laws in Florida, Kentucky and Louisiana. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in the three years after Florida's repeal of its mandatory helmet law in 2000, 933 motorcyclists were killed, an 81 percent increase. Another study found that fatalities grew by more than 50 percent in Kentucky and 100 percent in Louisiana after those states struck down mandatory helmet laws.
Those aren't just head injuries, they're fatalities. As in dead.
• A March 2011 poll by AAA Michigan found that 81 percent of those polled favored maintaining the motorcycle helmet law. That's unheard of; 81 percent of Michigan residents can't agree on what day it is.
• Since the inception of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (supported by a surcharge on every auto insurance policy in the state) in 1978, the MCCA has reimbursed insurance companies $482,641,000 for 965 motorcycle injury claims. That's an average payout of just over $500,000 — and that's with a helmet law. The new law would require motorcyclists to have a ludicrous $20,000 in insurance. The rest of the tab would be on the rest of us.
The prize for cynicism, however, goes to the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which praised the Senate vote for "paving the way for increased motorcycle tourism in the state" and claimed "You can watch cyclists stop and turn around when they approach our border" — without buying a single beer. If they scramble their brains later, well, that's business.
This is simply pandering to a small but vocal lobby. Why don't the 81 percent of Michigan voters who oppose the law count? What about their interests? There are only an estimated 200,000 motorcycles in the entire state.
It's up to Gov. Snyder to just say no.