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February 6, 2014

Legislators advancing tighter Indiana scooter rules

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The chairman of the Indiana Senate’s transportation committee says he believes a proposal to tighten regulations on motorized scooters could gain legislative approval.

The House voted 81-14 this week to approve a bill would require scooters to have license plates and drivers to have a state-issued identification card with a motor-driven cycle endorsement. To receive the endorsement, the operator would need to pass a road signs test from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The bill doesn’t include a requirement that scooter drivers have insurance, as Sen. Thomas Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, has supported in previous years, but he said the proposal could help police address concerns with the vehicles.

“They have restrictions in there now that may lessen the problem that I saw in the past, but more importantly be something that will be responsive to what Evansville has known for many, many years has been a major problem for them,” Wyss told the Evansville Courier & Press.

The bill is likely to be assigned to the Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee that Wyss leads, and it could come up for consideration after the General Assembly resumes its session next week.

“If there’s improvements, we’ll try to make improvements. If not, we’ll try to make sure the legislation does get out,” Wyss said.

Evansville police Sgt. Jason Cullum testified to a House committee that the proposed requirements will help the department identify owners of scooters and recover the bikes when they are stolen. The city had comparable numbers of automobile and scooter thefts last year, Cullum said.

Cullum said the Police Department supports the legislation as a “step in the right direction.”

“We also see scooters used in a lot of crimes, including drug dealing, robberies and drive-by shootings,” Cullum said. “In several of those cases, we’ve found the scooter after the crime happened, but we had no way to locate the owner.”

The House’s sponsor, Rep. David Wolkins, said if the Senate adds an insurance requirement, he will attempt to take it out or stop the bill from advancing.

Wolkins, R-Warsaw, said he hopes the proposal receives the same reception in the Senate as it did in the House.

“The fact that we got everybody involved and everybody on line,” Wolkins said. “I think we have a very good chance to making it happen this year.”

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