TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The roar of nearly a hundred motorcycles pierced the quite at the State Capitol Monday. The bikes brought the session's most unusual, colorful and deadly serious lobbyists to the Capitol.
The bikers roared up US 27 and onto the Capitol Grounds. They posted colors, and raised an oversized American Flag
And with each tolling of a bell, another name was read from the organization's membership that was killed in the last year.
As the names were read, Josh Bear was visibly upset. His brother Jacob was killed six months ago. "An older lady pulled out in front of him, took a middle-left turn without an arrow and pulled right out in front of him and he passed away on impact."
The bikers are on a campaign to increase penalties when someone dies.
Danny Fish of Pensacola if Florida’s ABATE President. "Right now, the fines run anywhere from 89 to 166 dollars; if you hit and hurt, injure or if you kill somebody."
The bikers have been pushing for stiffer penalties for several years. The response from lawmakers has been “accidents happen.” Their former President, Doc Reichenbach of Ocala, reminded them they have power. "So vote."
Two out of three times when a biker's involved in an accident, it's not their fault.
In previous years, these unusual lobbyist have won money for road safety, the elimination of the helmet law, and even their own license plate.
Robert Russel Crans is a Naples Machine Shop Owner. "We're not just a bunch of dumb bikers, like Doc says, we have families..."
And based on their legislative success, they’re not.
While tougher penalties for accidents injuring bikers remain a long shot, leaving the scene of a deadly accident could soon send someone to prison.