Florida Senate Bill 320, introduced by Maria Sachs, is quickly moving through the Florida Senate with a unanimous favorable vote yesterday, March 10, 2014 in the Commerce and Tourism committee. The bill sets new regulations on the popular tourist activity of parasailing in Florida and with its new amendment, includes kite surfing. Today the bill is in the Community Affairs committee which will likely get a similar vote.
Kite surfers and parasailers will be reigned in as to when and how they are able to enjoy their sport under the bill. As we mentioned in a previous article, over the last 30 years there have been over 130 million harnessed parasailing 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 needs more regulation. Far more people die each year from eating french fries and other unhealthy products, however we don't see Sachs propose to regulate the french fry industry. The numbers simply do not justify the passage of this bill. Those numbers are only for parasailing; we are compiling numbers for kiteboarding and are not yet available, however will follow up as the legislation moves forward with those numbers.
One would think the Eastern Surfing Association or the American Kiteboarding Association would be lobbying against the additional regulations, however they are no where to be seen in Tallahassee to fight for their member's rights. The new regulations set what time of the day one can participate in the activity of kite surfing or parasailing which goes over and above the federal requirements enforced by the United States Coast Guard.
SB 320 has an identical bill in the Florida House, HB 347, which isn't moving as quickly, however is widely expected to find its way to the Florida House floor for a vote this session. Republicans, who are supposed to be against unnecessary regulation, are complicit in seeing this regulation move forward. They have done nothing to thwart its progress and have often cheered it on.