NHTSA July, 1999 Legislative Update

The continuing saga of NHTSA saw some recent activity in congress. Maryland Congressional Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-6th District) working with AMA and MRF drafted language that would further limit NHTSA lobbying. This is consistent with the desire to prevent NHTSA from attempting to persuade Maryland legislators to favor or oppose a particular piece of legislation. This is exactly what happened during the 1999 session and we want to prevent it from ever happening again.

Congressman Bartlett took proposed language that was jointly drafted by the AMA and the MRF to Chairman Wolfe to discuss the possibility of an amendment that would limit NHTSA lobbying to the DOT appropriations bill. Congressman Wolfe who is a proponent of .08 BAC saw the potential amendment as a way to limit Government’s ability to seek out .08 laws and refused to allow the amendment to be offered on the House floor or as a committee substitute.

The same language has been proposed in the Senate and has been met with considerable resistance in the committee leadership there as well. AMA and MRF are looking into other mechanisms to work on NHTSA, but it appears this year’s DOT appropriations bills will not be where that happens.

Although the attempt to amend language that further restricts NHTSA lobbying failed, I am pleased that Congressman Bartlett was at the forefront of the matter. In addition to this action, he also initiated an investigation of NHTSA testifying in the Maryland State Senate by the Department of Transportation Inspector General.