Just when kite boarders and kite surfers felt they had little to worry about regarding regulation, yesterday an amendment was added to the para sailing bill in the Florida legislature. Late yesterday, May 1, 2014, the amendment was filed and adopted by the Florida House to restrict kite boarders and para sailers away from seashore airports. Also added to the para sailing bill is an attempt to quiet air boats by forcing them to install mufflers. It is hard to understand what air boats have to do with para sailing, but that's politics.
We were not able to find any accidents of kite boarders or kite surfing near any airports in Florida which would caused a need for this regulation to be added to the para sailing bill. There are only two bodies of water we were able to determine which would affect kite boarders in Palm Beach County and that is the active Lake Osborne (Palm Beach County Airpark) and also Cloud Lake (next to Palm Beach International Airport). Kite surfers would be excluded from enjoying their past time at these locations under the new bill.
We had written about this bill (see below) since it was introduced by Florida Senator Maria Sachs and subsequently when attempts were made, then quickly withdrawn, to regulate kite boarding and kite surfing. The kite surfing and kite boarding community is well-connected which is why the amendments were previously withdrawn after our story was published. Florida legislators have now attempted this small intrusion into their lives at the last minute, with promises to further regulate them in the 2015 legislative session. This amendment which has passed has opened the door for them. The full para sailing bill, which this amendment was tucked into, still needs to go to the Florida Senate today and be signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott to become law.
As we mentioned in our prior articles, over the last 30 years there have been over 130 million harnessed para sailing trips/rides and another 23 million Gondola rides. Out of those 153 million trips over 30 years there have been 73 fatalities throughout the nation, not just Florida. By all accounts this is a highly safe activity to pursue, yet bureaucrats in Tallahassee are interested in scaring the public that the industry is not safe and need more regulation. The numbers simply do not justify the cause.
You may wish to subscribe to this column to keep up-to-date on this legislation. Also, over the coming days we will be recapping the Florida legislative session, which ends today.