|Posted by Anne Siren on September 21, 2012 at 2:30 PM|
Pompano Beach – The last attempt to increase regulation on Florida’s parasailing industry failed, but city officials are hoping an upcoming attempt will succeed.
The move stems from two deaths, five years apart, which both occurred in Pompano – Kathleen Miskell, 28, died on Aug. 15 after she plummeted more than 150 ft. to the water and Amber White, 15, died in 2007 when the cable connecting her to the boat snapped, and she drifted inland and was slammed into a nearby hotel.
State Senator Maria Sachs said when the new legislative session begins in March of 2013, she plans to introduce legislation that would require additional safety regulations for parasailing operations.
Under the “White-Miskell Bill,” parasailing would be prohibited during certain weather conditions, or within certain proximities of power lines, wharfs or other fixed objects. It would also require insurance coverage and inspection of ropes and harnesses and other provisions.
“With our dazzling white beaches and crystal clear water, Florida is a natural magnet for adventure-seeking tourists who want a bird’s eye view of the spectacular scenery,” said Sachs in a statement. “But we need to better ensure that they are as safe in the air as they are on the ground, and this legislation is designed to do just that.
To help get the bill passed this time, Pompano has directed Russ Klenet & Associates and Becker & Poliakoff, the city’s lobbying firms, to petition the leadership of the House and Senate; something the city didn’t do before.
Current state regulations don’t require equipment inspections or parasailing operators to be licensed or carry insurance.
Regulations do require vessels towing parasailers to have Coast Guard-approved floatation devices. There must also be one person observing parasailing activity in addition to the person operating the vessel. Florida also prohibits parasailing companies from taking out customers 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset.
State Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed said she may sign-on as a co-sponsor in the House when the bill is proposed. She views parasailing in the same way she views carnivals and fairs.
“When we allow carnivals and various attractions [to come to town] they have to be inspected prior to the carnival opening up. I put this in the same kind of category,” said Clarke-Reed. “There needs to be some kind of inspection [of parasailing equipment]. Just more oversight on the whole industry.”
City officials recently passed a resolution urging the state legislature to pass the bill. “It’s such common sense. Why don’t we regulate this industry?” asked Mayor Lamar Fisher. “Those who do it right are behind this [regulation].”
Rep. James Frishe, a Republican who sponsored the last parasiling safety bill, said the parasailing industry approached him wanting to improve standards that would help weed out companies that don’t practice good safety standards on their own. Frishe added that right now Tallahassee is adverse to any bills that involve an increase in regulation or oversight.
“It’s really a challenge, particularly for Democrats, to get bills brought up,” said Clarke-Reed.