Missouri’s governor is still reviewing legislation that would allow some motorcyclists to ride without a helmet.

State Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on February 20, 2020 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The provision is included in a large transportation bill that is now on Governor Mike Parson’s desk. Parson’s spokeswoman, Kelli Jones, told Missourinet on Wednesday that the large bill is still under review.

Current Missouri law requires every person operating or riding a motorcycle to wear protective headgear.

The provision in the transportation bill would allow riders 26 and older to operate a motorcycle without a helmet, if they have both medical insurance and proof of financial responsibility.

A national highway safety organization is calling on the governor to veto the bill, because of the helmet provision. The organization “Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety” says the helmet law saves lives and prevents life-long brain trauma.

The group also says it will be difficult to enforce, saying it will be hard for police to know if a motorcyclist driving by is 26 or older.

State Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, and other supporters of repealing the helmet law say it’s an issue of freedom. They say Missourians 26 or older should be able to decide whether or not they want to wear a helmet.

The organization “Freedom of the Road Riders” also supports the repeal. Their members travel to the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City each year to ask lawmakers to support a helmet repeal.

This is a perennial issue that’s been debated annually at the Capitol for more than 25 years.

At least three governors, including GOP Governor Parson, have vetoed helmet repeal legislation. Governor Parson vetoed a broad bill in 2019, that included a helmet repeal. The governor’s objections were to a different part of that overall bill.

Then-Governor Mel Carnahan (D) vetoed a similar motorcycle helmet bill in 1999, and then-Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a similar bill in 2009. None of those three vetoes were overridden.

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