EDIT: This has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 14, at 1:00 PM.
A key piece of the 2011 Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota legislative agenda has been the support of bills to increase careless driving penalties. Cyclists have been encouraged to send messages of support to committee members and to their own legislators, preparing the latter to vote in favor of these bills when they are available for floor votes. Unfortunately, these bills were tabled in March after several committee hearings.
The bills, however, remain alive at the Capitol. Another hearing — this time on SF 201, which would increase the penalty for causing a death while committing a careless or reckless driving offense to a gross misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $3,000 and a jail sentence of up to 1 year — is scheduled for today, at 1 PM. The hearing is part of the agenda of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, and the meeting is scheduled to take place in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
It turns out that this bill has some heavy-hitting opposition — chiefly trucking organizations, and budget hawks who fear the expense of additional jail time for guilty individuals. It is important for cyclists and pedestrians to reach out to friends and family to ask them to join their voices to ours for support, and groups like the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota are reaching out to other vulnerable road users — motorcyclists and scooter operators — requesting their support.
Stay tuned. The Bicycle Alliance is on top of this issue, and will be releasing regular updates via their Facebook page — go be a fan.