Bills aimed at improving safety at ski resorts move to Schwarzenegger’s desk | SierraSun.com

Bills aimed at improving safety at ski resorts move to Schwarzenegger’s desk

The Associated Press
Sun File PhotoA helmeted snowboarder takes in the birdand#8217;s eye view of Donner Lake and the surrounding Sierra Nevada terrain at Donner Ski Ranch. A pair of bills looking at safety measures at all California ski resorts await a decision from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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UPDATE: 3 p.m.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; Truckee/Tahoe ski and snowboard resorts could be in for a flurry of strict regulations as early as the 2010-11 winter season should Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger OK a pair of bills moving through the state legislature.

On Wednesday, the state senate passed SB880 by a 21-11 vote, and the assembly approved AB1652 by a 43-19 vote.

SB880 and#8212; introduced by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and#8212; would require skiers and snowboarders under 18 to wear helmets at all California winter resorts; according to the bill, violators would be fined up to $25.

and#8220;Californiaand#8217;s ski slopes are perhaps the last area of recreation where we do not have basic safety standards in place for children,and#8221; said Yee, who is a child psychologist. and#8220;Despite repeated warnings from public health experts, professional athletes and ski resorts, each winter brings news of hundreds of unnecessary tragedies for the failure to wear a helmet. With this legislative package, we can significantly reduce instances of traumatic brain injury or death for such a vulnerable population.and#8221;

AB1652 and#8212; carried by Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento and#8212; would mandate all California ski resorts publicly report fatal injuries that occur there, as well as to create and make public annual safety plans. Another stipulation would be to implement better signage warnings of boundaries and other dangers.

and#8220;While tragic accidents at Californiaand#8217;s ski resorts are not common, we can do more to protect the safety of ski resort enthusiasts and families,and#8221; Jones said. and#8220;Requiring helmet use for kids, having a clear safety plan, posting consistent signs warning of possible dangers and changing conditions are the tools we need to put in place to ensure the safety of those enjoying Californiaand#8217;s mountains.and#8221;

Schwarzeneggerand#8217;s has until Sept. 30 to ratify or veto the bills. Among the groups that have publicly supported the billsand#8217; adoption include the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization, California Psychological Association and the California Ski Industry Association, among other groups that herald the bills as progressive steps toward safer slopes.

Opponents, according to an Associated Press article, see the bills as forms of and#8220;nanny governmentand#8221; that levy a huge burden of policies on California ski resorts that would have to obey the strictest regulations in the nation.

According to a Thursday story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, said the bill is and#8220;tantamount to making a decision that allowing a child to ski without a helmet is child abuse.and#8221;

and#8220;Wouldnand#8217;t it make more sense to allow parents to decide whatand#8217;s best for their kids rather than the 120 members of the state legislature?and#8221; he asked.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, who covers portions of Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties as part of Californiaand#8217;s 4th district, was the only Republican in the Assembly who voted for the helmet bill.