Memo History of SB994- Highlights
From the complete history by: Jim Fitzpatrick
To: John Bernards and the IASC Board of directors
Dec. 5, 2005
Re: SB 994 / AB 1296 / HRA
Hazardous Recreational Activities “list” amounts to the code stating which activities have been recognized as so hazardous that public entities are exempt from any liability for injuries to those participating in the activities included in the HRA list. California’s state law, Section 831.7 of the Government Code, lists dozens of recreational activities (bicycling, tree climbing, spelunking, surfing, etc.) deemed to be ‘hazardous’ by the state’s legislators.
No new or developing activity has been added to the HRA list since surfing was added in the late 1960s (CA cities wanted to designate certain areas of their beaches for surfing and in so doing they created high-risk zones).
If ‘skateboarding’ were added to California’s HRA then skateboarders injured while skateboarding would be responsible, despite the circumstances, for the consequences of their own injuries. Public entities, and everyone else, would be exempt from liability. If skateboarding became part of the HRA there would be no reason for helmet or safety pad requirements. This was the original intent of IASC’s initial intent intent to add skateboarding to the CA HRA).
The following is an historical overview of events related to SB 994:
*For more detailed information download the "Complete History of SB994"
- 1995; Assemblyman Bill Morrow introduced legislation to amend the HRA list which ‘died’ in the legislative process (bills disappear in committees), ISAC was just beginning to function and there was much to learn about the legislative process.
- 1996; Morrow reintroduced legislation and perhaps because of the beginning lobbying efforts of IASC and personal appearances by IASC’s Jim Fitzpatrick in Sacramento, the bill made its way through committee before it was rejected by the Senate’s Judiciary committee
- IASC’s goal, working with Bill Morrow, was to add skateboarding to CA’s HRA in order to give California cities exemption from liability to provide them the opportunity to open public skateparks.
- 1997; AB 1296 ges before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee meeting in Sacramento where the committee members discussoed several options. What they created on the spot would, according to their perspective, ‘achieve many of the same goals’ as Morrow’s legislation. Their proposal was to amend the existing Health and Safety Code sections involving skateboarding, instead of adding ‘skateboarding’ to the HRA. Morrow and Jim Fitzpatrick recognized the Health and Safety Code amendment fell short of what inclusion on the HRA would provide. However, because the compromise provided exemption from liability California cities would be able to build public skateparks. The question of “What if we don’t accept this compromise?” was greeted with the immediate answer from the committee, “Then this goes away, again.”
- 1998; Following Assembly and Senate approval and the signature of the governor, AB 1296 became law on January 1, 1998 with the provision that it would ‘sunset’ (expire) five years later (December 31, 2002).
- 2001; SB (Senate Bill) 994 was introduced by Sen. Bill Morrow in 2001 to “renew” the legislation known as AB 1296
- 2003; AB 1296 was “renewed” and SB (Senate Bill) 994 was signed into law in January 2003.
- Both Bills amend section 115800 of the California Health and Safety Code—the section of the Health and Safety code, which has existed since 1975, requiring skateboarders in any CA skatepark (public or private) to wear a helmet and safety pads while skateboarding.
- SB 994 is set to expire on December 31, 2007, any steps to ‘renew’ SB 994 must be taken in 2006 for 2007 approval (legislation approval typically requires 6-8 months on the legislative calendar).
- If SB 994 were to be repealed now California communities would immediately lose their exemption from liability for injuries sustained by skateboarders in CA’s public skateparks
- It was the perception of liability lawsuits that forced the private owners of California’s private skateparks to shut down their businesses in the 1980’s. Insurance rates skyrocketed and the parks closed up.
**For more detailed information download the "Complete History of SB994"