AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas lawmakers approved motorcycle safety legislation on Friday that supporters say was going to be discussed at the biker's meeting in Waco where a deadly shootout erupted last weekend.
The measure, which now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, would funnel some of the state's motorcycle-related fees to state Department of Transportation campaigns that remind motorists to share the road and look twice for motorcycles. Some fees already help boost the Texas Department of Public Safety's motorcycle education efforts.
"We need to be more visible to the general public, which these campaigns do," said Ty Yocham, who was among five men wearing leather jackets and vests who watched from the Texas House gallery as the chamber approved the bill.
The men advocated for the legislation in place of three bikers who helped write the legislation but were among about 170 people jailed following Sunday's melee in Waco that killed nine people.
Investigators have said the shooting began during an apparent confrontation between two rival motorcycle gangs, then spilled into the parking lot. Police said they returned fire after being shot at.
Yocham said he was delayed by an accident Sunday while driving to the Twin Peaks restaurant for a meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents. He said the legislation was on the meeting's agenda.
Yocham said he and other bikers who were running late turned around after hearing about the shooting.
"It was a terrible incident, but this community does a lot of good," said Geno Petronio, a member of the Scallywags motorcycle club who was riding with Yocham on Sunday and sat with him in the House gallery Friday.
Restaurant footage viewed by The Associated Press shows the shooting began after a confrontation between two rival gangs in the eatery's parking lot. Police have said the people who were killed or injured belonged to five criminal motorcycle gangs, which bikers have denied. And according to Texas Department of Public Safety records searched by The Associated Press, more than 115 of the people arrested had never been convicted of a crime in Texas.
"The vast majority of these folks are everyday people," Petronio said.
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