Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 122396
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File Number: 122396 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-1082-12 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: REGULATE PARASAILING INDUSTRY Introduced: 12/4/2012
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 12/18/2012
Agenda Date: 12/18/2012 Agenda Item Number: 11A9
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION SUPPORTING PASSAGE OF SENATE BILL 64 OR SIMILAR LEGISLATION DURING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE’S 2013 SESSION THAT WOULD IMPOSE REASONABLE REGULATIONS ON THE PARASAILING INDUSTRY IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY
Indexes: FLORIDA LEGISLATION
  PARASAILING
Sponsors: Barbara J. Jordan, Prime Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 12/18/2012 11A9 Adopted P

County Attorney 12/4/2012 Assigned Jess M. McCarty 12/6/2012

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING PASSAGE OF SENATE BILL 64 OR SIMILAR LEGISLATION DURING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE’S 2013 SESSION THAT WOULD IMPOSE REASONABLE REGULATIONS ON THE PARASAILING INDUSTRY IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY

BODY
WHEREAS, parasailing is a potentially dangerous recreational activity and parasailing accidents have the potential for severe consequences; and
WHEREAS, in September 2010, Alejandra White was killed parasailing in Clearwater when a towline snapped after the captain of the vessel assured her that he could beat approaching storm clouds; and
WHEREAS, White made a water landing, but then the parasail re-inflated and dragged them toward the beach where she collided with a volleyball net post and was killed; and
WHEREAS, on August 15, 2012, Kathleen Miskell, who was on vacation in South Florida from Connecticut, dropped from a parasailing harness and was killed when she plummeted nearly 200 feet into the ocean near Pompano Beach; and
WHEREAS, the deaths of White and Miskell are two of four deaths in Florida in the past three years related to parasailing; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that there are 70 to 120 active commercial parasailing operators in Florida, with most parasail businesses operating along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico coastlines; and
WHEREAS, based on Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports, the majority of accidents are related to towline separations as a result of poor weather or equipment failures; and
WHEREAS, presently, no Florida law comprehensively regulates commercial parasailing activities; and
WHEREAS, the only statutes that references parasailing is Section 327.37, Florida Statutes, and it provides only minimal guidelines for parasailing that include:
* Requiring the person operating the vessel that is towing a person involved in parasailing to observe the progress of the person being towed by using a designated observer;
* Prohibiting parasailing between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise;
* Requiring a person parasailing to wear a personal flotation device;
* Prohibiting the operation of any vessel in such a way as to cause the parasailer to collide against or be likely to collide against any vessel, bridge, dock or similar objects; and
* Prohibiting the operation of any vessel towing a parasail or engaged in parasailing within 100 feet of the marked channel of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway; and

WHEREAS, bills have been filed in recent years that would comprehensively regulate parasailing in Florida, but none have passed; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 652 by Senator Dennis Jones (R – Seminole) and House Bill 1487 by Representative Jim Frishe (R - Belleair Bluffs) were filed for consideration during the 2012 session, but these bills died in committee; and
WHEREAS, a bill has been filed for consideration during the 2013 session, Senate Bill 64 by Senator Maria Lorts Sachs (D – Delray Beach) that would regulate parasailing; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 64 would provide comprehensive guidelines for commercial parasailing, including the following:

* The owner of a vessel engaged in commercial parasailing would be required to carry insurance against an accident resulting from the commercial parasailing activity with a minimum coverage of $1 million per person and $2 million per event;
* Commercial parasail operators would only be able to launch riders from and recover riders to the vessel, and not from land or a dock;
* A person would be not permitted to operate a vessel for commercial parasailing unless an observer 18 years or older, who is not a customer and has no other duties, is present in the vessel at all times to monitor the airborne parasail rider and parachute;
* No more than three persons would be permitted to be tethered to the towing vessel and ascend above the water at any time;
* Commercial parasail activity would be prohibited less than 1,800 feet from the shore, including the vessel, towline, and rider;
* A person would be prohibited from operating a vessel towing a commercial parasailing rider so that the vessel, towline, or riders comes within 400 feet of an anchored vessel, person in the water or a bridge, power line, pier, dock or other structure;
* Commercial parasailing would be prohibited within 100 feet of the marked channel of the Florida Intracoastal Waterway;
* Commercial parasailing would be prohibited when current sustained winds or forecasted sustained winds of 20 mph or higher are present, when visibility is reduced to less than a half mile, and within 7 miles of a known lightning storm;
* Commercial parasailing towlines would have to be rated for a tensile strength that exceeds 4,800 pounds, and such towlines could not exceed 500 feet in length; and
* Each parasail rider would have to be given a safety briefing before parasailing; and

WHEREAS, as Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm recently pointed out, the United State Department of State includes on its website the following warning related to parasailing in Mexico:
Rented sports and aquatic equipment may not meet U.S. safety standards or be
covered by any accident insurance. . . . Parasailing has killed U.S. citizen tourists who were dragged through palm trees or slammed into buildings; and

WHEREAS, there is an expectation that, in contrast to commercial parasailing in Mexico, commercial parasailing in Florida has appropriate safety regulations and requires insurance, yet the parasailing industry is largely unregulated in Florida; and
WHEREAS, particularly given the importance of the tourism industry to Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida, this Board urges the Florida Legislature to enact reasonable regulations on commercial parasailing by passing SB 64 or similar legislation,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that this Board:
Section 1. Supports the passage during the Florida Legislature’s 2013 session of SB 64 or similar legislation that would impose reasonable regulations on the commercial parasailing industry so as to more fully protect those residents and tourists participating in parasailing activities.
Section 2. Urges the Florida Legislature to enact such legislation during the upcoming 2013 session.
Section 3. Directs the Clerk of the Board to transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the Governor, Senate President, House Speaker, the Chair and Members of the Miami-Dade State Legislative Delegation and Senator Maria Lorts Sachs.
Section 4. Directs the County's state lobbyists to advocate for legislation that would regulate the commercial parasailing industry as set forth in Sections 1 and 2 above, and authorizes and directs the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to include this item in the 2013 State Legislative Package when it is presented to the Board.



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