Grantville, PA – The Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE of PA) hosted its annual Leadership and Legislative Seminar on January 27, 28, 2017 at the Holiday Inn in Grantville, PA. The event attracted a record crowd of 415 politically active motorcyclists from Pennsylvania and surrounding states, in a tradition of successful meetings and fundraising for BikePAC, the motorcyclist political action committee.
Opening this year’s meeting was an address by Senator Scott Wagner, Republican candidate for Governor, which was followed by a question and answer session. Also addressing the attendees was Senator Richard Alloway (R-33). Rich has been a longtime supporter of the ABATE group and spoke about legislation in the last session.
To address motorcycling issues in Pennsylvania ABATE hosted a panel discussion with experts from various backgrounds relevant to motorcycling. Current topics of recent interest ranged from motorcycle profiling, lane splitting, and increasing penalties for not having the proper motorcycle endorsement on your license, lemon law and new rules for group riding.
Participating on the panel were Representative Stephen Bloom, Representative Mark Keller, Representative Dawn Keefer, Representative Bryan Barbin, Representative Bill Kortz, Eric Bugaile, Executive Director of the House Transportation Committee, Megan Elkstrom, Motorcycle Riders Foundation Vice President of Government Relations, Marie Wuelleh, American Motorcyclist Association, Recreational Riding and Volunteer Manager, Imre Szauter of the New Hampshire Motorcyclists Rights Organization and Kevin Snyder, past State Coordinator, ABATE of PA. The panel was moderated by Charles Umbenhauer, the ABATE lobbyist.
Following the panel discussion BikePAC held a reception with the panel participants as our special guests. Entertainment was provided by Sasparilla.
On Saturday afternoon there was a special presentation by Vince Consigilo, president of ABATE of Michigan. Michigan is the most recent state to modify their helmet law and successfully passed legislation that penalizes motorcycle operators that do not have the proper endorsement on their license. Vince also authored a book entitled “We Fought the Law and Changed It.”
The focal point of the weekend was the awards banquet, which included the presentation of the prestigious Ed Fruecht Jr Lifetime Achievement Award. This year the award was presented to Milt and Nancy Hunt of the Erie County Chapter. Milt and Nancy have been motorcyclist’s rights advocates for more than four decades.
Other ABATE members who were presented with awards are as follows: Presidents Award – Robert McCully, Lancaster County Chapter, Freedom Fighter Awards were presented to Michelle Gallatin Baughman, Jamie Baughman, Mary Lou Gallatin and Jim Conner, all members of the Lawrence County Chapter. The award was presented for their tireless work on Daniel’s Law.
Leadership Awards were presented to Eric Mershimer of the Butler County Chapter and Adam Gill of the Blue Mountain Chapter. Safety and Awareness award went to Mary Bruno of the Montgomery Chapter and Golden Quill was presented Sonja Mauk of the Mason Dixon Chapter.
Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Blain Gladfelter of Mason Dixon and NPC, a printing business in Blair County that has donated space and equipment to help with the distribution of our motorcycle safety signs each year. And finally the Humanitarian Award went to Jefferson County Chapter for their Ride for a New Life.
There were two other special presentations that were given to our lobbyist, Charles Umbenhauer that deserve mention. Imre Szauter presented Charles with an American flag that was flown over the US Capitol on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016. At the request of the Honorable Robert P. Casey Jr. US Senator, this flag was flown in honor of Charles’ military service and for his longstanding dedication to the rights and freedoms enjoyed by motorcyclists nationwide.
Philip Woods, who is a native of Liberia and active in bringing motorcycle safety and awareness to his country, presented Charles with a native dress in thanks for his assistance in helping motorcyclists in Liberia.
By the end of the L & L Seminar $35,952.78 was raised for BikePAC. Since its inception in 1986, the political action committee has endorsed biker friendly candidates for the State Senate and House of Representatives.
ABATE of PA will hold its annual Motorcyclists Rights Rally at the state capitol on Monday, May 22, 2017.
A.B.A.T.E is the “Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education”. It is an organization of motorcyclists dedicated to the protection of the individual rights of motorcyclists through political change, public education, and charitable works. ABATE is active in the elimination of unfair legislation as it concerns motorcyclists; promoting motorcycle safety through both motorist and rider education; and improving the image of motorcyclists to the general public.
ABATE’s goal and purpose is to keep motorcyclists, members, and the public informed, to promote safe riding habits, and to encourage favorable legislation for motorcyclists. This is accomplished through a monthly newsletter, e-mail alerts, safety & education programs, working with the state and federal legislators, and voter registration promotion.
Since 1983, A.B.A.T.E. has represented the interests of motorcyclists riding Pennsylvania’s roads. Through a variety of programs, A.B.A.T.E. is working to protect and preserve the rights of over 800,000 licensed motorcyclists.
Report from Philip Woods