INDIANAPOLIS — The House passed a bill yesterday that will shift the cost of research for spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries to all Hoosier vehicle owners — not just those who have motorcycles.
House Bill 1318 eliminates a controversial $10 fee that lawmakers added to motorcycle registrations last year, a move that irritated bikers across the state.
Rep. Carolene Mays, D-Indianapolis, sponsored last year’s proposal and this year’s bill. Mays said yesterday that she never intended for motorcycle owners to bear the full cost of the research, but that last-minute changes in the budget left them on the hook.
“We’re coming back to correct that,” Mays said. “We found that a fee of 50 cents (on all Motor vehicles) is much more fair so we don’t have motorcycles singled out.”
The 50-cent fee is expected to generate at least $2.8 million for the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Fund. That’s about $1.1 million more than would have come from the motorcycle fee.
Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, said he opposed the bill, even though his son had been complaining about the motorcycle fee. He said the measure is just another way to take money from taxpayers.
“My son is going to beat me up if I vote against it,” Leonard said. “But my church is going to have to pay 50 cents more to register their bus.”
The injury fund is managed by a nine-member board that provides grants for research and programs as well as a surveillance registry to track those injuries in Indiana.
Mays said the grants will help the state pursue a share of $50 million in federal research funding for the injuries. An estimated 160,000 Hoosiers have had traumatic spinal cord or brain injuries.
By Lesley Stedman Weidenbener
Reporter Lesley Stedman Weidenbener can be reached at (317) 444-2780.