March 29, 2001 11:00 pm

House tries to overturn

voters will on helmets

Some people think the Oregon House flipped its lid this week when it passed a bill that would repeal the motorcycle helmet requirement for riders 21 and older.

We wonder whom the legislators were listening to when they approved HB2808, which will now be considered by the Senate. Where were the scores of motorcycle riders or passengers who avoided serious head injuries by having their helmets secured on their heads when they tipped their bikes? Where were the insurance company representatives or the head-trauma surgeons? Could they not get to the Capitol and testify as to the blessings of helmets before the House passed the bill, 35-22?

Co-sponsored by several Willamette Valley legislators, a bill like this shows a lack of respect for the voters of the state, who in 1988 passed the helmet measure by a two-to-one margin. We have to wonder what is going on in the minds of these legislators when they know that their bill will never see the light of day. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, has promised to veto the legislation.

Is the group trying to make a public statement against the governor who might be running for the U.S. Senate in a couple of years? Or is it a total disregard for the past lessons weve learned? The 1988 measure resulted in a 50 percent drop in the number of people dying in motorcycle accidents. Thats a stark contrast to national figures that show motorcycle deaths have increased by 27 percent over the past three years.

But what about this group of renegade legislators? Are they so into individual rights that they are willing to sacrifice a few dozen citizens every year on Oregons roadways? The safety of both the rider and the rest of us should be more important than the political agenda of a few legislators.

Develop plan now

Its time for Northeast Oregon residents to give some serious thought to how much electricity will be available to them this summer.

Will the drought and the low water levels for dams continue into April and May? If it does, area residents might be faced with the rolling blackouts that Californians experienced this winter.

What to do? Citizens should put together a plan now on how they will conserve electricity. Does the house or business air conditioner have to drop the temperature to 70 degrees on hot summer days, or can people get by with warmer rooms? And what about the lights that often are left on in the house? Does the seldom-used hot tub have to keep heating water, or can it be drained?

Consumers have another reason to conserve power. The Bonneville Power Administration might raise its wholesale rates by 100 percent or higher. If that happens, utilities like Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, could be passing on rate hikes of 50 percent. Ouch. Thats another good reason to develop an energy conservation plan and stick to it this summer.