Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/18/1996 01:05 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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               
 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             
 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.                          

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