BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 105
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   June 21, 2011

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                  Mike Feuer, Chair
                      SB 105 (Yee) - As Amended:  April 12, 2011

                              As Proposed to be Amended

           SENATE VOTE  :  32-6
           
          SUBJECT  :  Public safety: snow sport helmets

           KEY ISSUE  :  should there be a mandatory helmet requirement for 
          persons under 18 engaged in downhill skiing and snowboardING?

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS
          
          This bill seeks to require that all persons under 18 years of 
          age wear properly fitting helmets when downhill skiing or 
          snowboarding, and establishes a fine for violations of this new 
          helmet requirement.  The author notes that the bill seeks to 
          enhance safety for one of the few recreational areas lacking 
          safety regulations for children.  This Committee previously 
          considered and supported a nearly identical measure, SB 880 
          (Yee, 2010), which contained a provision making the bill 
          contingent on the passage of AB 1652.  AB 1652 was vetoed by the 
          previous governor, which subsequently voided SB 880's chaptered 
          status.  The current bill is sponsored by the California 
          Psychological Association and has support from numerous medical 
          organizations, psychiatric associations, child health advocates 
          and ski industry groups.  This bill is opposed by Capitol 
          Resource Family Impact who claim that this bill is an 
          impermissible usurpation of the rights of parents.

           SUMMARY  :  Requires persons under 18 years of age to wear 
          properly fitted and fastened snow sport helmets while downhill 
          skiing or snowboarding and establishes a penalty for skiers, 
          snowboarders, and/or their parents or legal guardians for 
          noncompliance.  Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Prohibits persons less than 18 years of age from participating 
            in the sport of downhill skiing or snowboarding, or from 
            riding upon a seat or device attached to snow skies or a 








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            snowboard, without a properly fitted and fastened snow sport 
            helmet meeting specified standards.

          2)Establishes a fine of twenty-five ($25) dollars for any 
            violation of this section. 

          3)Requires ski resorts to post signs around the resort to alert 
            patrons about the helmet requirement for minors, and the 
            penalty for noncompliance.  Also requires ski resorts to 
            provide written notice of the helmet requirement for minors on 
            all trail maps and resort websites.

          4)Makes the parent or legal guardian of an emancipated minor 
            jointly and severally liable with the minor for the fine. 

          5)Exempts Nordic skiing (cross-country) from these provisions.

          6)Provides that the bill does not increase or decrease 
            unspecified duties imposed under existing law.

           EXISTING LAW  :  
           
          1)Requires a person under 18 years of age to wear a properly 
            fitted and fastened bicycle helmet while operating a bicycle, 
            motorized bicycle, or riding upon a bicycle as a passenger, 
            upon the streets or any other public bicycle path.  (Vehicle 
            Code Section 21212(a).)  
           
          2)Establishes that every person who willfully commits a trespass 
            by knowingly skiing in an area or on a ski trail which is 
            closed to the public, and which has signs posted indicating 
            the closure, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  (Penal Code Sec. 
            602(r).) 

          3)Prohibits operators of skateboard parks from permitting any 
            person to ride a skateboard therein unless the person is 
            wearing specified protective equipment, including a helmet. 
            Establishes that any recreational skateboard facility owned or 
            operated by a local public agency that is not supervised on a 
            regular basis can be deemed in compliance with the protective 
            equipment requirement by: 1) adoption of a local ordinance 
            requiring any person riding a skateboard at the facility to 
            wear protective equipment; and, 2) posting signs at the 
            facility alerting riders of the requirement to wear protective 
            equipment, and stating that any person failing to do so will 








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            be subject to citation.  (Health & Safety Code Sec. 115800.)

           COMMENTS  :  This relatively non-controversial bill is designed to 
          improve safety for minors on California's ski slopes.  The 
          author states: 

               California's ski slopes are perhaps the last area of 
               recreation that lacks basic safety standards in place for 
               children.  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.  SB 105 can significantly 
               reduce instances of traumatic brain injury or death for 
               such a vulnerable population.
          
           Helmets Can Reduce the High Risk of Traumatic Injury Associated 
          with Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding  :  The National Ski Areas 
          Association reports that serious, skiing related, head or neck 
          injuries occur at the rate of 43.6 per year nationwide.  
          According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
          (CDC), more people are injured snowboarding than any other 
          outdoor activity.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission 
          released a report on an investigational study which shows that 
          although only 14 percent of skiing accidents involved head 
          injuries they account for 56 percent of skiing related deaths.  
          The same study determined that more than half of the head 
          injuries suffered by children could have been mitigated if the 
          child was wearing a ski helmet.  
           
          Ski helmets, when properly designed and used, partially absorb 
          the blunt force and dissipate the energy directed at the head 
          resulting from a fall on the ski slopes.  Although helmets do 
          not lessen the risk of falls or crashes, they significantly 
          lessen the impact to the head associated with ski accidents.  
          Helmets with a rating of RS 98 or higher from the Snell Memorial 
          Foundation of America National Standard Institute are needed for 
          optimal protection.  A 2006 LA Times article quoted Dr. Stuart 
          Levy who noted that helmets can reduce ski or snowboard 
          fatalities from head injuries by 80 percent.

          Despite the benefits of ski helmets fewer than half of American 
          skiers wear proper head protection.  As of 2009 estimates showed 
          that only 48 percent of all skiers wore helmets, a marked 
          improvement from 2006 when only 33.2 percent of skiers wore 
          helmets.  Helmet advocates believe that the positive results 








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          experienced by mandating helmets for motorcycle and bicycle 
          riders will have similar results for skiing and snowboarding.  
          Numerous studies have shown that increasing helmet use will 
          reduce the risk of traumatic head injury for skiers and 
          snowboarders.

           Reducing Falls Will Reduce the Occurrence of Traumatic Brain 
          Injury:   According to the CDC falls are the leading cause of 
          traumatic brain injury in the country, accounting for 35.2 
          percent of all traumatic brain injuries (the second most common 
          cause, traffic accidents, account for 17.3 percent).  Falls are 
          the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in children 0 to 19 
          years of age with nearly 8,000 children being admitted to 
          emergency rooms nationwide each day for fall related injuries 
          (2.8 million per year).  In January 2010, the Senate Committee 
          on Health convened a hearing on traumatic brain injury.  The 
          California Brain Association testified that 220,000 Californians 
          suffered brain injuries each year, not including the estimated 
          144,000 to 342,000 sports related concussions that go unreported 
          each year.  The annual cost of disease management for those 
          suffering traumatic brain injuries ranges between $51.2 and $60 
          billion annually nationwide.  A single person suffering a brain 
          injury can spend upwards of $30 million for lifetime care, a 
          significant portion of which is subsidized by public funds.  
          Reducing brain injuries will provide significant cost savings to 
          America's overstressed health care system.  
           
           Growing National Support for Ski Helmets  :  In passing this bill, 
          California will join a growing list of ski states implementing 
          mandatory helmet laws for minors while skiing.  Alaska, Arizona, 
          Colorado and Michigan have already passed mandatory ski helmet 
          laws and several others, including New York and New Jersey, have 
          legislation pending to create similar laws. 

           Lacking Oversight, Safety Standards Are Not Uniform Between 
          California Ski Resorts  :   California can proudly claim some of 
          America's best downhill skiing resorts.  California's 30 resort 
          facilities make up the backbone of the state's ski tourism 
          industry.  However, as a 2008 Assembly Judiciary Committee 
          Hearing on "Ski and Snowboard Health, Safety and Liability 
          Standards" found California's resorts are not governed by a 
          uniform law.  
           
          Most of California's ski resorts are located on federal land, 
          subjecting them to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service.  








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          Although the U.S. Forest Service requires resorts to file an 
          annual operating and safety plan and possess the authority to 
          enforce safety improvements at resorts, the Service takes a 
          "hands off" approach to safety regulation and rarely mandates 
          rules or requires improvements be made.  Additionally, all ski 
          resorts in California enjoy liability protection under 
          California's "primary assumption of risk" doctrine which shifts 
          liability from the resort to the skier for any injury suffered 
          as a result of normal athletic activity.  Furthermore, 
          contractual waivers associated with lift ticket purchases gives 
          resorts added liability protection.  By requiring helmets this 
          bill seeks to lessen the frequency and severity of injuries at 
          ski resorts but does not alter the liability protections ski 
          resorts currently enjoy.


           Author's Technical Amendment:   The author prudently proposes the 
          following technical amendment.

               -      On page 2 line 16 insert "a" before "snowboard"

           Arguments in Support  :  The California Psychological Association 
          claims neuropsychological research has shown that half of all 
          skiing deaths are caused by a head injury.  Observations on 
          acute rehabilitation units from brain injured patients 
          demonstrates that individuals who wore helmets during their 
          accidents seemed to have less severe injuries and were 
          consequently discharged earlier, with less in the way of 
          post-discharge services.  Individuals wearing helmets were more 
          likely to return to pre-accident levels of functioning sooner, 
          compared to their non-helmeted counterparts.  
          
          The California Ski Industry Association notes that winter sports 
          carry inherent risks and studies show helmet use in many 
          situations can lessen the risk of head injuries.  They note the 
          most recent study by the National Ski Areas Association shows 
          that approximately 85 percent of kids under 9 years of age and 
          75 percent of kids under 14 currently wear helmets.  They 
          believe this bill, along with their national campaign "Lids on 
          Kids," will do much to educate the public about the need to wear 
          helmets when skiing or snowboarding.

           Arguments in opposition:   Capitol Resource Family Impact argues 
          this bill will burden California businesses and constitutes an 
          impermissible usurpation of the rights of parents to make 








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          decisions for their children.  Capitol Resource Family Impact 
          also believes the bill will be too difficult to enforce.

           Other Related Bills  :  SB 278 (Gaines) requires ski resorts to 
          prepare and make public an annual safety plan, create monthly 
          reports describing incidents resulting in fatalities occurring 
          on the ski resort property, and establish policies for signage 
          indicating ski boundaries and safety information, and safety 
          padding for lift towers and other equipment near ski runs.  This 
          bill has been referred to this Committee as well as the Assembly 
          Health Committee.
          
          AB 695 (Norby) would exempt from mandatory helmet requirements 
          those motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or motorized bicycle 
          drivers who are 18 years of age or older and have completed 
          specified requirements.  

           Prior Legislation  :  SB 880 (Yee) Chapter 278, Statutes of 2010 
          was nearly identical to SB 105.  SB 880 included a provision 
          making the bill contingent on the enactment of AB 1652 (Jones).  
          AB 1652 was vetoed by the governor, which subsequently voided SB 
          880's chaptered status. 

          AB 1652 (Jones- 2010) is nearly identical to SB 278 and would 
          have required ski resorts to prepare an annual safety plan, make 
          the safety plan available to the public, and make available to 
          the public a monthly report with specified details about any 
          fatal incidents at the resort which resulted from a recreational 
          activity.  The bill would also require a ski resort to establish 
          its own signage policy and its own safety padding policy for the 
          resort.  Vetoed.

          AB 990 (Jones- 2009) Would have required ski resorts to prepare 
          and file an annual safety report with Division of Occupational 
          Safety and Health (DOSH) and to report to the DOSH on a 
          quarterly basis any serious injuries or fatalities involving 
          patrons at the ski resort.  Held in Assembly Appropriations 
          Committee.

          AB 2218 (Keeley) of 2002 would have created the California Ski 
          Safety Task Force, required the Task Force to adopt uniform sign 
          standards for adoption by California ski areas, and required the 
          Task Force to make recommendations regarding safety.  Died in 
          Senate Appropriations Committee.









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          AB 2268 (Caldera) Chapter 1000, Statutes of 1993, prohibits a 
          person under 18 years of age from operating, or riding upon a 
          bicycle as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, or other public 
          bicycle path or trail unless the person is wearing a helmet 
          meeting specified standards.  The bill provides for fines to be 
          imposed for violations of this prohibition and requires all the 
          revenue derived from the fines to be allocated as specified.  
          Requires that the charge against a person be dismissed if it is 
          the first charge against that person for a violation of this 
          prohibition.  Requires any safety helmet sold or offered for 
          sale to be conspicuously labeled in accordance with the 
          specified standards and would prohibit the sale or offer for 
          sale of any bicycle safety helmet which is not of a type meeting 
          the safety standards.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
            California Psychological Association (sponsor) 
          American Academy of Pediatrics
          American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 
          (AFSCME)
          California Brain Injury Association
          California Chapter of the American College of Emergency 
          Physicians (CAL/ACEP)
          California Chiropractic Association
          California Emergency Nurses Association
          California Hospital Association
          California Medical Association
          California Nurses Association
          California Optometric Association
          California Psychiatric Association
          California Psychological Association
            California School Nurses Organization       
          California Ski Industry Association 
          California Ski & Snowboard Safety
          California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery
          California Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
          California Travel Association 
          Child Abuse Prevention Center
          Children's Specialty Care Coalition
          Consumer Attorneys of California
          National Ski Area Association
          Occupational Therapy Association of California 








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          Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc
          State Independent Living Council
           
           

           Opposition 
           
          Capitol Resource Family Impact


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Drew Liebert & Nicholas Liedtke / JUD. 
          / (916) 319-2334