ABATE of Illinois Pushing for Equality in New Energy Bill

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 21, 2021 at 3:06pm

An organization dedicated to the rights and safety of motorcycle riders in Illinois is pushing for changes to the recently passed energy bill.

ABATE of Illinois announced this week, the organization is calling on members of the General Assembly to support a recently introduced Senate Bill aimed at removing a provision in the energy bill its members feel is discriminatory to motorcyclists.

Josh Witkowski, State Legislative Coordinator for ABATE of Illinois says the Illinois Energy Bill passed in September had two critical components for electric vehicles including the planning of infrastructure and the incentives for transitioning to electric transportation.

Witkowski says that although ABATE appreciates Governor J.B. Pritzker’s approach to the electrification of transportation, unfortunately, the sections specifically excluded electric motorcycles from participating in planning and incentives.

The definition of electric vehicle in that bill specifically excludes electric motorcycles. It allows for every other electric vehicle, but it specifically calls out shall not include electric motorcycles. ABATE of Illinois views this as discriminatory in trying to exclude motorcycles from the future of Illinois transportation. So we have introduced legislation that removes that discriminatory language.”

SB 2940 which would remove the provisions, would also give motorcycles equal access to electric vehicle infrastructure planning and incentives. Witkowski says the sponsors of the energy bill in the House and Senate declared support for removing this language during debates and hearings on the bill in September.

He says a further explanation by the Governor’s Office following passage of the bill called into question if a motorcycle is considered a primary vehicle.

When asked why the Governor’s Office did this, they said they wanted to facilitate the development of electric primary transportation, indicating that motorcycles were not primary transportation, basically referring to us as second-class citizens.

The fact is many Illinois bikers use their motorcycles as primary transportation. Personally, I have two vehicles, a motorcycle, and a truck. My motorcycle averages fifteen to sixteen thousand miles a year, my truck is less than ten thousand, my motorcycle is my primary vehicle.”

Earlier today, Pritzker walked back comments made earlier by his administration. During a press conference to discuss the state’s shift to electric vehicles, Pritzker said there was “no intentionality exactly to exclude” motorcycles from the provisions in the bill. He says it’s something his administration is looking at, and he looks forward to reviewing it.

Since the passage of the Energy Bill, Illinois has signed on to a 5 state coalition focused on electric vehicle infrastructure & transitioning to an electric future. The Governor’s Office has also indicated plans for incentives aimed at electric vehicle manufacturing in Illinois.

Witkowski says ABATE is calling on the Governor’s Office to guarantee that motorcycles will not be excluded in the new initiatives, and hopes that leaders in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office will work together to ensure equal access to planning the future of Illinois transportation.

Transportation is changing. We are sitting on top of what could be the greatest change in transportation in the last hundred years. It’s very important that as transportation changes we consider all road users and that includes motorcycles. We are about the fight of preserving motorcycles, not only for my kids but for my kid’s kids and future generations beyond that.”

SB 2940 has been introduced and is currently awaiting committee assignment in the Senate. Witkowski says it is the hope of ABATE that the language in the bill can be rolled into an “Energy Bill Fix” that is rumored to be occurring during the upcoming veto session.