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Moped bill dies in SC Senate

A moped-safety bill died Wednesday when the S.C. Senate adjourned without deciding whether to override Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the wide-sweeping legislation.

“What killed us this year was the calendar,” said state Sen Greg Hembree, R-Horry, one of the bill’s most vocal supporters. “The clock killed us ultimately. If we had another three days, we could win this thing.”

The Republican governor objected to the bill last week, saying it went too far in requiring moped riders to wear reflective vests at night and mandating riders younger than 21 wear helmets.

The bill also would have raised the minimum age to drive a moped to 15 from 14 and required drivers to register with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Most importantly, some supporters said, it would have given mopeds a single definition under state law, allowing officers to charge intoxicated moped drivers with DUI.

S.C. House members voted 69-33 to override Haley’s veto after an earlier vote to sustain it. The bill reached the Senate Wednesday evening but never received a vote as state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, blocked it.

Malloy said he agreed with Haley’s reasoning in her veto letter, adding having to wear reflective vests at night would be “cumbersome.”

“We’ve been working on this for four years,” Hembree said. “All of a sudden, he found a problem with reflective vests that cost $4.50.”

The Senate adjourned as midnight approached, as too many members had left to have a quorum.

“It’s just frustrating,” said Hembree, who added the bill’s proponents would push for similar legislation next year.

“There’s too many people dying on the roads that don’t have to die,” he said.

In the S.C. House, supporters said reflective vests are important to protect moped drivers at night and other vehicles.

“Mopeds are extremely difficult to see, and this is a safety issue for the motorist who comes up on a moped, and the moped driver himself,” said state Rep. Joseph Daning, R-Berkeley, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Haley found an ally on the House floor in Minority Leader Todd Rutherford. The Richland Democrat said the proposal was too large and complex, and moped riders wouldn’t know they were breaking state law until they are pulled over.

“The dangerous people that ride mopeds usually are only dangerous to themselves,” Rutherford said.

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks

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