Regulating Safety on the Slopes

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    A bill that would require minors to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding in California pitted skiers and doctors against each other as lawmakers moved it out of committee Tuesday.

    Helmets could become a more common accessory for young people heading downhill on skis and snowboards in California.

    A bill that would require minors to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding in California pitted skiers and doctors against each other as lawmakers moved it out of committee Tuesday.

    The helmet requirement would be the most restrictive in the nation if it's signed into law, mandating helmets for all skiers and snowboarders under the age of 18 and imposing stricter safety rules on California ski resorts. It would also require ski resorts to file annual safety plans and issue monthly reports about injuries and deaths.

    The committee ended up passing the measure, but some lawmakers on the panel expressed concern about the requirement that the industry adopt standardized safety signs and report injuries and deaths.

    "I think that what we're doing here is to try to over-regulate an industry to set up an unenforceable law," said Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks.

    Bill sponsors countered that the bill would not regulate resorts and that it includes no inspection or enforcement mechanisms.

    "There's nothing in the bill that changes the fact that when you walk on the slopes, you're assuming the risk," Jones said. "It merely says 'provide information, provide the safety plans, provide fatality information."'

    Jones added that making it a crime to not wear a helmet, which is a provision in a similar bill introduced by Sen. Leland Yee, was not the best approach.