Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger effectively squashed California legislation last week that would have required helmet use at California resorts for skiers and snowboarders under 18. Schwarzenegger actually signed state Senate Bill 880 that mandated such helmet use, but he refused to sign Assembly Bill 1652 that included additional provisions requiring safety reports from ski areas. Considering that each bill included a provision to become operative only if the other was also enacted, Schwarzenegger’s opposition to Assembly Bill 1652 in effect killed both bills. (See exact text of each bill below.)
“Many California ski resorts are located on U.S. Forest Service land, and are already required to compile and file safety and accident reports with USFS as well as maintain some of this information in the resort management office,” Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. “Ski resorts in California also already mark their ski area boundaries and trails with appropriate information. This bill may place an unnecessary burden on resorts, without assurance of a significant reduction in ski and snowboard-related injuries and fatalities.”
California Senate Bill 880
(a) A person under 18 years of age shall not operate snow skis or a snowboard while participating in the sport of downhill skiing or snowboarding unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened snow sport helmet that meets the standards of either the Central European Norm CE1077, the ASTM International F 2040, or the Snell Memorial Foundation RS-98, or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This requirement also applies to any person who rides upon a seat or any other device that is attached to the snow skis or snowboard while participating in the sport of downhill skiing or snowboarding.
(b) Any charge under this section shall be dismissed when the person charged alleges in court, under oath, that the charge against the person is the first charge against that person under this section, unless it is otherwise established in court that the charge is not the first charge against the person.
(c) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars ($25). (2) The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of an unemancipated minor whose conduct violates this section shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for the amount of the fine imposed pursuant to this subdivision.
(d) This section shall not apply to Nordic skiing.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to increase or decrease duties imposed under existing law. A ski resort shall comply with both of the following: (a) Post signs at the resort giving reasonable notice that a person under 18 years of age shall not operate snow skis or a snowboard while participating in the sport of downhill skiing or snowboarding unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened snow sport helmet, and that any person who fails to do so will be subject to a fine under Section 115810. (b) Provide prominent written notice of the helmet requirement under Section 115810 on all trail maps and resort Internet Web sites.
California Assembly Bill 1652
A ski resort that operates in California shall do all of the following:
(a) Prepare an annual safety plan that conforms with the requirements of federal regulations applicable to ski resorts operating on federal property.
(b) Make the annual safety plan available to the public at the ski resort, upon request, within 30 days of receipt of such a request.
(c) Make available to the public, within 30 days of receipt of a request, a monthly report containing the following information, if known: (1) A description of each incident resulting in a fatality which occurred on the ski resort property and resulted from a recreational activity, such as skiing, snowboarding, and sledding, that the resort is designed to provide. (2) The age of each person fatally injured in an incident identified in paragraph (1), the type of recreational activity involved, the cause of the fatality, the location at the resort where the incident occurred, and the name of any facility where medical treatment was provided. The report shall not identify a deceased person by name or address.
(d) Establish its own signage policy used to indicate the ski area boundaries, closed areas, relative degree of slope difficulty, and other safety and educational information.
(e) Establish its own policy for safety padding or other barriers for lift towers and fixed snowmaking equipment located on or in close proximity to groomed ski runs.