By Jan Murphy
Just months after naming the Eastern Hellbender as the official state amphibian, some lawmakers are ready to add Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Pennsylvania’s collection of objects associated with the Keystone State.
The House State Government Committee on Tuesday approved legislation to name the Harley as the official state motorcycle. Getting the committee’s blessing is a first for this legislation that has been offered by state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny County, in at least each of the last five legislative sessions. Joining Kortz is sponsoring the bill is Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-York County, whose district is home to Harley-Davidson’s Springettsbury plant.
In selling the idea to the committee, Kortz, a long-time Harley owner, said, “This is an iconic motorcycle. It’s made right here in Pennsylvania.”
He said the Harley plant employs about 1,000 workers and with announced closing of the company’s Kansas City, Mo., plant, that number will swell by 450 more.
“I truly believe this would help the business in Pennsylvania and help move this iconic motorcycle to another level,” Kortz said.
The only opposition to the measure came from Rep. Drew Lewis, R-Dauphin County, who said his reservation stems from naming a privately manufactured item as a state symbol. However, committee Chairman Garth Everett, R-Lycoming County, said the state aircraft (Piper J-3 Cub) falls into that category. Others pointed out the official state steam Iocomotive (K4s Steam) and electric locomotive (GG-1 4859) do as well.
Rep. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson County, said he fully supported naming the Harley as the official state motorcycle but joked that he wanted to amend the bill to require Harley to name the “hellbender” as one of its models.
Everett rejected that suggestion, replying, “Let’s not complicate things.”