HB 88 defines a new criminal violation, "vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian," as a vehicle operator hitting a bicyclist or pedestrian while driving recklessly. It authorizes law enforcement officers to issue a citation or make an arrest for this violation on the basis of probable cause (in other words, good reason to believe that the violation has been committed). Current law prohibits officers from issuing citations or making arrests for non-felony traffic infractions unless they witness the infraction, except in cases of DUI. For this reason, police rarely file charges when bicyclists are hit, regardless of the severity of injury suffered by the cyclist. HB 88 would change that.
We visited several members of the House Judiciary Committee, which must report favorably on HB 88 in order for it to progress to the full House of Representatives. Three legislators decided to cosponsor the bill, and three others said they would consider supporting it, perhaps with some modification. It was clear to us that face-to-face conversations with the legislators helped us make the case for the bill and build support for it. We learned quite a bit by listening to them, too. I would say that we had a very good day for Stage 1.
Stage 2 takes place on Friday, when we return to Frankfort to meet Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville) in hopes of winning swift committee action on the bill. The legislative session lasts only three more weeks, with the committee meeting probably three more times. We have a small window of time in which to get the committee to act on HB 88. For now, our full effort must go toward winning the support of Rep. Tilley and Judiciary Committee members. If that goes well, we will return to Frankfort to lobby the entire membership of the House. If our work with the Judiciary Committee does not bear fruit, our race is over... for this year.