This just in from our climbing friends: We received an update from the Attorney General’s office late last night about the need to take some action this weekend. Most of you are probably aware that the bill we all supported back in January, SB 1007 HD1, is currently waiting to be scheduled by the House Finance committee. As we had mentioned previously, there are also multiple incarnations of our same bill making their way through the House and the Senate. Yesterday, our contact informed us that one of these identical bills, SB 2248 SD2, has passed out of the Senate and is now scheduled to be heard in TWO DAYS by the House Water and Land Committee, this Monday March 10th at 8:45 am.
Without getting into great detail regarding the legislative process or why there are multiple versions of our bill, or trying to guess which version will ultimately pass and become law, we have been informed that it is very worthwhile for us to submit testimony in support of SB 2248. Testimony must be submitted ASAP!
If you submitted testimony for SB 1007 HD1, please re-submit the same testimony (but change the bill number). If you can attend the hearing on Monday at 8:45, please do so. If you can attend and write testimony as a representative of your group (i.e., hikers, bikers, climbers), that would be great as well.
Please find below, some sample testimony you can use, but be sure to add your own name, etc.
We will keep you informed about what happens. Feel free to ask any questions!
LINK TO SUBMIT TESTIMONY FOR: SB 2248 SD2:
We, the undersigned residents of Hawaii and/or possible visitors to Hawaii very strongly support the passage of SB 2248 (SD2) and any provisions that will make this legislation permanent.
We support this measure because we cherish our right to freely enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in Hawaii’s mountains including hiking, biking, trail running, climbing, paragliding and other activities. We are baffled by the State’s current absence of liability protection, which has led to ongoing closures of climbing areas, hiking trails, and other scenic sites due to the State’s legitimate fear of lawsuits. We strongly believe that public lands need to remain open to the public. It is patently absurd that the State should decide when, where, and how people are able to experience Hawaii’s natural wonders - especially when such decisions are made largely based on liability risk assessments. It is time to take a significant step toward tort reform and shift our landowner liability paradigm toward something sensible, sustainable, and sane.
In comparison to other Western States, Hawaii’s recreational liability statutes are sorely lacking. We do not want to see access to mountain sports across the Hawaiian Islands denied or restricted because the lobby for a small group of trial attorneys holds the rest of us hostage. We strongly disagree with previous testimony against liability reform in Hawaii that suggests that the status quo is in the best interest of the public, or that the status quo will keep us safer by holding the State liable for accidents (such as the Brem case in 2012). We are a responsible group of citizens who recognize the assumed risks in engaging in recreational activities on State lands. We believe that individuals who choose to go hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, or who choose to engage in any other recreational use of public lands, should do so at their own risk.
Without the passage of this bill, the State of Hawaii is left with very little protection from litigation resulting from injuries that occur on State lands. We believe the lack of liability protection is wholly untenable, especially given the ever-growing popularity of mountain recreation to residents in Hawaii and visitors comprising our tourist economy.
This bill is an agreeable compromise. It notably does not provide the State with absolute immunity, but does require that those engaging in hazardous recreational activities accept the risks associated with their actions. This bill will effectively balance State responsibilities (to maintain public trail systems and to warn of possible hazards) with the responsibilities of individuals to keep themselves safe and adequately prepared. Thus, we fully endorse this essential legislation and urge the Hawaii State Legislature to pass it into law.