Governor declines to sign bipartisan snowmobile bill |

Governor declines to sign bipartisan snowmobile bill

Jeff Munson
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune file A snowmobiler cruises across Hope Valley.

Even with industry backing and bipartisan support, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to sign legislation Monday that would have required snowmobile guides to be CPR-certified and carry first aid and survival equipment.

The legislation, authored by Assembly speaker Leland Yee, D- San Francisco, was spawned after a 21-year-old Bay Area woman who was killed when the snowmobile she was riding near Strawberry in El Dorado County plunged down an embankment, leaving her tour guides stranded without a safety equipment and CPR training.

By the time the tour guides found Shaylin Lepper, she was buried in snow. The tour guides with her did not have shovels or a flashlight to help with a rescue.

Schwarzenegger said Monday he was not going to sign the bill because among other things, it failed to specify “the elements necessary to complete a training course” for CPR as required in the bill.

“If a training course is to be mandated, it is important that there is statewide consistency provided through a program developed with safety experts and state agencies responsible for recreation and transportation,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement to the Assembly.

Jim Lepper, whose daughter Shaylin died in the January 2003 snowmobile accident, said he was disappointed with the governor’s decision.

“Because of a lack of requirements and training by this snowmobile company, my family is paying the price every day with the loss of my daughter, Lepper said. “As I stated in my letter to the governor, this bill would have prevented another family from experiencing a similar loss.”

A survey earlier this year of South Shore snowmobile guide services found that all require their guides to have CPR training and to carry proper equipment such as flashlights, shovels and first aid kits.

Backed by the California and Nevada snowmobile associations and garnering bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate, Yee said he isn’t sure why the governor would not sign off on the bill.

“Regrettably, there are still some snowmobile rental companies that do not provide basic first aid equipment or CPR training for their guides,” Yee said. “I am deeply disappointed that the governor did not sign this bill, which would have helped prevent unnecessary loss of life.”

In the governor’s letter to the Assembly, he calls for additional regulation on the snowmobile industry by directing the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation and “other appropriate state agencies” to develop a snowmobile safety and enforcement program.

Yee said Schwarzenegger’s recommendations call for more regulation.

“AB 1818 was a common sense bill that the snowmobile industry supported,” Yee said. “I am quite surprised that the governor is calling for another onerous government program and additional regulation on business.”

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