Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/18/1996 01:05 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 479 - IMMUNITY FOR EQUINE ACTIVITIES Number 728 CHAIRMAN PORTER introduced House Bill 479 and Representative Gary Davis as sponsor came forward to outline for the committee this legislation. REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS stated that he represented District 8, an areas from Soldotna to Seward and noted that it wasn't the horse capitol of the state, but it was fairly close. He outlined that HB 479 was a bill to limit the civil liability of persons who are involved with equine activities throughout the state. He noted several exclusions in this legislation, which was due to the innate nature of equine animals. If someone is not familiar with how to handle these animals there is opportunity for injury and certainly at no fault of the owners or sponsors of the animals as indicated in the sponsor statement. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated that there were a number of exceptions to the legislation, such as gross negligence and allowing someone unfamiliar with these activities to participate, as well as, a provision for spectators and faulty equipment utilized in this activity as well. He noted that there were a number of definitions which clarify what is outlined in the legislation. Number 920 CHAIRMAN PORTER outlined an amendment to HB 478 which would essentially delete the last half of line 13 on page one, and line 14. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS agreed with this amendment as illustrated. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN offered this amendment number one for consideration by adding the words "gross, or" on line 11, page 1 and to make the changes as Chairman Porter indicated, beginning with the middle of line 13 on page one, to delete the remainder of the sentence, beginning with the phrase, "for purposes of." Number 980 CHAIRMAN PORTER reiterated this amendment number 1, which basically amounted to recognizing the inherent risk of equine activities, but not to include a limitation of liability for gross negligence. The amendment read as follows: "(1) gross negligence or reckless or intentional misconduct of the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or equine owner, or agents or employees of the equine activity sponsor, equine professional, or equine owner;" There being no objection this amendment was moved. Number 998 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN stated that they see a lot of these bills with excepted liabilities and asked what it was about horse activities that should allow for an exception as versus ones for bicycle activities, for example. What is it that's inherent in riding a horse that means someone should have less responsibility for their actions. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS noted that there were probably plenty of other similar activities which exist that should allow for exemptions, but this equine issue was brought to him by a constituent who deals with these types of activities. They also found in their research that a lot of other states have these similar equine laws. There are a lot of frivolous lawsuits related to equine activities and presently the people involved with accidents should know better. Representative Davis stated that there was no "yes or no" answer to Representative Finkelstein's question. Number 1102 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE made a motion to move CSHB 479 (L&C) as amended from the House Judiciary Committee with attached fiscal notes and individual recommendations. There was an objection made by Representative Finkelstein. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN spoke to his objection. He felt as though there were lots of entities who would like exemptions from Alaska's liability laws and eventually if they exempt them all, there will be no liability laws left. People ought to be responsible for their actions and he saw no reason whey this equine exemption action should be taken. He added that if they do take this action, he felt as though they should include other trail oriented sports activities which are also big in the state. CHAIRMAN PORTER requested a roll call vote. Representative B. Davis, Green, Bunde, Toohey and Porter voted yes. Representative Finkelstein voted no. Chairman Porter then announced that CSHB 479 (L&C) had passed from the House Judiciary Committee.