As suspected, Congressman Ed Markey offered his amendment to bring fixed-site rides under the jurisdiction of the CPSC during yesterday’s markup of H.R. 4040, which deals with changes to the CPSC. The amendment was defeated, however, and here’s a look at what happened during the proceedings:
Well into the markup, Markey argued that if a stroller is regulated by the federal government, a roller coaster should be as well, using a staffer pushing a baby stroller across the committee room as a prop. (Of course, this is an odd comparison because even the nicest of parents don’t buy their children roller coasters, and I’m sure very few parents hire engineers to assemble, inspect, and maintain their strollers on a daily basis.)
During the debate, Markey offered a letter from Jim Prager, a former member of the amusement industry, stating Prager’s support of Markey’s amendment. While Prager has worked in the amusement industry, he is no longer a member of IAAPA. His views are not indicative of those of the industry—a point that was poignantly made later in the proceedings by Congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida, one of the industry’s strongest supporters in Congress.
Markey’s proposal was unexpectedly challenged by Congresswoman Jane Harman, a fellow liberal Democrat from California. Harman said she was interested in examining federal jurisdiction for amusement parks, however the need for ensuring children’s toys are safe was more pressing and suggested the committee hold a separate hearing on fixed-site rides next year.
After the Congresswoman’s turn concluded, Markey spoke out passionately against Harman and Stearns, suggesting their opposition was based on the heavy park presence in their home states and that they didn’t fully understand the issue at hand. The committee recessed for a floor vote shortly thereafter; when committee members returned, Markey apologized profusely to both Harman and Stearns for his earlier comments before asking for a roll call vote.
In the end, Markey’s amendment failed with bi-partisan opposition. Yet it is very likely that the issue of fixed-site ride jurisdiction will be considered in more detail by Congress in 2008.
It is important for IAAPA members to continue educating their elected officials about the industry’s safety record and efforts to maintain that strong record. Members of Congress will be in their districts for an extended period of time over the holidays and are very willing to meet with our members during this time to discuss the issue. If you would like assistance setting up an appointment with a legislator from your state, please contact me.
Finally, thanks to members of the IAAPA Grassroots and Information Network for sending more than 200 personal messages to members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, voicing opposition to the amendment.
***This post was revised on Monday at 1:30PM***