Latest Nonsense 7/30
KAYAK SAFETY BILL IN DOUBT AFTER HOUSE AMENDS COMPROMISE BILL
A bill aimed at promoting kayak safety that seemed sure to pass is now in doubt, after the House tacked on an 11th-hour amendment last week that left the Senate’s lead sponsor scratching his head. The House amendment was unusual because it came after the branches had reached a compromise, agreeing to a bill that would require kayakers to wear "Coast Guard approved" life vests at all times, and to require kayak instructors to receive First Aid and CPR training. The last-minute House amendment, which struck the requirement that all kayak passengers wear a life jacket “at all times,” was added by Rep. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), who had led negotiations with the Senate. The amendment instead requires that kayakers carry at least one life jacket on board, although it doesn’t specify that it must be worn. Sen. Robert O’Leary, the Senate’s lead negotiator, told the News Service Wednesday he was unclear about the bill’s fate and pointed the finger at the House for creating uncertainty. Straus was not immediately available for comment. O’Leary originally filed his bill in 2001 but has seen it fail for four straight sessions. The compromise proposal (S 2518) was filed after a 56-day negotiation between O’Leary, Straus and four other lawmakers. It would require kayak instructors to provide “wet exit training” for capsized kayaks, and the bill nullifies any existing waiver from providing that training. “The reason I filed my initial legislation was in response to several drownings by people in kayaks who were not wearing a lifejacket,” O'Leary said in a statement after the compromise was reached. “We require ready access to lifejackets in other recreational vehicles, so it seemed logical to include smaller craft as well. We are talking about small unstable boats that many people take out into the ocean where conditions can change instantly, and having a lifejacket makes sense.” The bill seemed assured of passage when lawmakers came out with a compromise version and the Senate accepted it on July 6. The bill was initially passed 29-4 in the Senate in October 2009, and the House followed suit in January. The proposals were sent to a conference committee on May 4 and emerged in late June.