Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

ABATE of South Carolina Lobby Day 2015 – Columbia, South Carolina

Written by  February 1, 2015

On January 13, the ABATE of South Carolina Chapters and members from across the state join forces in Columbia, South Carolina for Lobby Day. On this day, all the ABATE members let the state senators and representatives know which bills are important to the bikers of South Carolina. The members meet at the Statue of John C. Calhoun before going into the gallery to show their unity to all the members of the General Assembly.

The Sunday afternoon before Lobby day, I attended my first meeting of the Laurens County Chapter of ABATE. Their meeting is held the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Medlock- Simpson VFW Post 3354 of Laurens, South Carolina. I didn’t know what I was about to get into, but I needed something to write about this month, and this seemed like a good place to start.

During the meeting, they discussed their upcoming trip to the state capital in Columbia, South Carolina to attend Lobby Day 2015, which is held when the General Assembly returns. The Chapter Coordinator Bill Palmer asked if anyone wanted to ride with him to Columbia, South Carolina. The weatherman had already predicted that it was going to be cold and raining, so I told him I would like to ride with him in his van to the State House.

When Tuesday came, I was up and ready to go by 5 a.m., and 30 minutes later I was out the door to meet up with Bill. The 50 mile ride to the Laurens VFW took about an hour, which was about half from Calhoun Falls to Columbia, South Carolina. Most of the time, I get there too early and have to wait. About 10 minutes later, Bill arrived in the parking lot, and we headed across town to pick up Darrell Ward and his wife Terry at their home. After we picked them up, it was a short drive to the interstate to meet up with the Greenville Chapter of ABATE, which is in the same district as Laurens. We left the gas station and headed down I-26 to Columbia. We arrived at the State House at 8 a.m. and headed inside.

The ABATE members met at 9 a.m. at the Statue of John C. Calhoun inside the main lobby of the capital, so we could enter the gallery as a group. We were given a legislative packet from ABATE Public Relation Officer Chad Fuller, which contained the laws we would support and not support. We also had the opportunity to tour the State House and learn more about the legislative process. During the tour, we collected information to earn points to win prizes at the end of the day. I guess this was a way for us to have fun while learning about our state government.

At 10 a.m., the ABATE members moved down to Governor Haley’s office. The Lieutenant Governor’s Office is located in the East Wing of the first floor, and the Governor’s office is located the other side of the hallway. We waited on Governor Nikki Haley to come out of her office so we could have a photo taken with her, and before she came out, everyone was jockeying for a good position so they could be close to the Governor. At 11 a.m., a group of people emerged from her office. I’d seen Governor Haley on TV many times, but it took me a few seconds to recognize her walking down the hallway of the West Wing. The Governor posed for a photo with us, and told us what she had in store for the state and our motorcycling community.

The ABATE South Carolina State Coordinator Ralph Bell was very happy about the way Governor Nikki R. Haley planned to support ABATE over the next four years, while in office. The Governor stated that she would also veto any laws that didn’t help and protect the motorcyclists of the state. She also told us she would especially make sure to veto any law that would mandate a helmet law in South Carolina. In South Carolina, you must be at least 21 years old to not wear a helmet. A bill that would require small children to be secured to a motorcycle with seat belts is meeting fierce resistance in the South Carolina General Assembly. Rep. Joseph Daning, a Berkeley County Republican, filed legislation that would require a standard, rear-facing child safety seat to be used for motorcycle passengers from birth up to 1 year. This is one of the bills in which Governor Haley stated “Why would anyone think this would make it safer for a child to ride a motorcycle?” This is one bill the Governor will be against if it came before her.

When it was time to make a personal call on members of the general assembly, the Laurens County ABATE members and I headed to the office building. At the first Representative Office we came to, his secretary told us he had already gone to the Capital Building. When we arrived at the office of Rep. Mark Willis, he was in his office and came out to talk with us. Bill Palmer informed Rep. Mark Willis of Laurens of the bills that ABATE wanted him to support and not support.

We then we took photos of him with the Laurens members. We then asked him if we could take a few photos of Darrell Ward sitting behind his desk. To my surprise he helped us to set up the photos.

One of the things I enjoy about going to these events is the free food. I would also like to give credit where credit is due, for the free shuttle ride over to the Carolina Ale House is Carolina Honda. All American Heating and Air treated us to breakfast, and that afternoon, a lunch of ribs and four different kinds of chicken wings was provided by Chad Fuller with the Tom McGrath Motorcycle Law Group. Those were the biggest wings I had ever seen. They must have come from some super chickens! After lunch, door prizes were drawn, and Jeff Robert, who was sitting at our table, won a $25 gift certificate to use on his return visit to the restaurant. If you have never been to a Lobby day in your state, it is time to join ABATE and attend one. I hope to see you in January at the next Lobby Day 2016!