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Minnesota House considers Skier Safety Act

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Most states with ski areas have a law called the "Skier Responsibility Act," or something like that. A Colorado-based law firm, Chalat Hattan Koupal & Banker PC, has collected these into SkiLaw.com. It offers some brief commentary about relevant laws in various states, and the list is a way to find out where skiing is a commercial business. The list includes the states you'd expect, such as Colorado, Utah, and Vermont, but also some that may surprise people, including New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Other states on the list include Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Some of the states have laws such as the "Skier Responsibility Act" (West Virginia) or "the Ski Area Safety Act" (Michigan). Others tuck applicable statutes into various parts of the state code.

But some states receive limited commentary, either because they are not listed at all, or because they do not have state-specific laws. These include Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota.

Of interest to this column is Minnesota, which does not have a skier safety act. Instead, it is governed by common-law precedent. The summary of legal cases in Minnesota shows there is some ambiguity in the law, which is one reason why two legislators have filed HF 2376, which would create the Minnesota Skier Safety Act. The legislation codifies many existing industry practices, such as the Responsibility Code of the National Ski Areas Association.

In brief, the legislation would impose obligations on several parties. Skiers and riders are expected to observe the code. Ski areas are expected to have their lifts inspected (which, presumably, they already for for insurance purposes) and post various signs. The legislation would also clarify statutes of limitations and caps on liability payments.

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