Senate Approves Parasailing Bill

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TALLAHASSEE -- The parasailing regulation bill cleared another hurdle in the House Thursday. At one point it looked like the bill would die. Local supporters are glad the legislation made it out of the chaotic House committee session.

It appeared on Thursday that the parasailing regulation bill was dead. The bill would create minimum insurance policies for parasailing operators and prohibit parasailing during certain weather conditions.

But when members of the House Regulatory Affairs Committee considered the bill today, it included a last minute amendment.

The amendment added regulations on kite boarding and tethered ballooning. The committee voted against the bill, then revived it and passed it.

"It's actually an enhanced version of the bill I think it provides good consumer protections for kite boarding and other water sports," (R) Ft. Walton Beach Rep. Matt Gaetz said.

The bill comes after several parasailing crashes, including one that critically injured two Indiana teenagers last year in Panama City Beach.

Seventeen year olds Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild slammed into a Thomas Drive condominium on July 1, 2013, when the tow rope on the parasailing boat broke.

It happened while a storm front was passing through. Both families are now suing the parasailing operator Aquatic Adventures, the rope manufacturer, and the home owner's association where the operation was based.

"There's some of the operators that are not happy with the bill because it's going to require that they carry insurance, something they don't have to do now. It's going to require that they carry more radio equipment onboard to check weather, they don't have to do that now. They don't have to keep logs of weather. They would have to keep those logs when they check weather and what the weather forecasts were. Those are some of the factors involved in this new bill." Good Family Attorney Wes Pittman said.

Pittman said he believes most people are in-favor of the bill.

The full House has yet to vote on the parasailing bill. The full Senate has already approved it.