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Child ski helmet requirement moves forward

April 13, 2011
By NATHAN BROWN - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Betty Little to require skiers and snowboarders under age 14 to wear helmets is moving in the Senate.

The bill was introduced on March 31 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It moved to the Finance Committee Tuesday, the last committee to pass before a full Senate vote, said Little's spokesman Dan Mac Entee.

There are two other Assembly bills and one other Senate bill that would require skiers of all ages to wear helmets. None of these bills have moved beyond their houses' judiciary committees.

Article Photos

Sen. Betty Little
(Enterprise file photo)

The Ski Areas of New York Inc. supports Little's law. The Republican senator from Queensbury, is a skier herself and wears a helmet, Mac Entee said. Little said in a press release that the law is modeled after the bicycle helmet law.

"Skiing is a relatively safe sport made safer by the use of a helmet," Little said. "More people are wearing helmets each year recognizing that a traumatic brain injury is life altering. Requiring kids to wear a helmet is a reasonable and smart approach."

The law would require ski areas to post signs at their information boards and where lift tickets are sold, notifying guests of the law and of the availability of helmets for rent or sale, and to also maintain a reasonable helmet inventory. Lift tickets would also have to have a sentence on them notifying people of the law.

Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, is sponsoring an Assembly bill similar to Little's, except that Destito's does not require language on the lift tickets notifying people of the law. Local Assemblywomen Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro and Janet Duprey, R-Peru, are co-sponsors of Destito's bill, which was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Jan. 24.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, has nominated Destito to be commissioner of the state Office of General Services, which complicates things at the moment.

"We're sort of in a holding pattern," Mac Entee said. "We have to figure out what the next step would be to come to an agreement with the Assembly on legislation that would be the same as, so that if both bills pass the Assembly and Senate, it could then go to the governor for his consideration."

A ticket for violating the law would go to the child's parent or guardian. The penalty, a fine of up to $50, would be waived by showing proof between the violation date and court date that a helmet had been bought.

"This would give mom and dad some added authority by being able to say to their children that it's the law, you can't hit the slopes without your helmet," Little said.



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