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Update on Massachusetts Kayak Safety bill


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I and Liz Neumeier testified at the hearing this morning on the Kayak Safety bill, before the Legislature's Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Also there were Mark Jacobson, Dave Jacques and Dan Smith of Charles River Canoe and Kayak, and a half dozen other folks opposing the bill. The only one speaking for the bill was Rep. Straus of Mattapoiset, one of the sponsors, and author of the wet exit provision.

Bottom line -- I think we got the committee's attention! They were attentive, engaged, and definitely took notice of both the number of people testifying against the bill (especially by contrast with prior years) and the force of the arguments. The NSPN and CRCK folks also bumped into a committee member in the hall afterwards and had a very productive discussion.

Here's a step that many Massachusetts residents can now take that, I think, will move things even further along. The following legislators make up that committee. If you are in any of these districts, it would be be very effective if you would drop your Senator or Representative an e-mail stating your views and follow up with a phone call. Or just make a phone call. You can either compose your own letter, or refer to the NSPN Statement on the home page, upper right. Mention that you are their constituent.

FYI, here's the cover e-mail that went with the mailing to the committee and to all legislators.

> Attached to this e-mail is a position statement by North Shore

> Paddlers Network (NSPN), the largest sea kayaking membership

> organization in Massachusetts, on the bill before the 2007 session of

> the Massachusetts General Court entitled "An Act relative to kayak

> safety." This bill is House 2382, Senate 1410. In 2006 it was House

> 4949, Senate 2709.


> As detailed in our statement, NSPN is extremely active in promoting

> paddlesport safety and very much shares with the bill's sponsors the

> goal of saving the lives of paddlers. Nevertheless, we oppose the

> proposed law because we believe it is not only a poor method to

> achieve these goals, but could actually be counterproductive in a

> number of ways.


> Instead of this or any similar law, NSPN, along with the American

> Canoe Association (ACA), urges expansion of state safety training and

> outreach efforts for human-powered craft, through schools, recreation

> programs, paddling organizations and commercial paddlesport

> operations. This, we believe, would truly increase paddling safety in

> Massachusetts and save lives.

Jarrett.Barrios@state.ma.us 722-1650 Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex - Chair

Stephen.Brewer@state.ma.us 722-1540 Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin - Vice-Chair

Scott.P.Brown@state.ma.us 722-1555 Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex

Stephen.Buoniconti@state.ma.us 722-1660 Hampden

Gale.Candaras@state.ma.us 722-1291 First Hampden and Hampshire

Patricia.Jehlen@state.ma.us 722-1578 Second Middlesex

Rep.GeraldoAlicea@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2060 Charlton

Rep.BruceAyers@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2230 Quincy

Rep.MichaelCostello@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2230 Newburyport - Chair

Rep.StephenDiNatale@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2575 Fitchburg

Rep.ChristopherDonelan@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2230 Orange

Rep.BradHill@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2489 Ipswich

Rep.HaroldNaughton@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2013 Clinton - Vice-Chair

Rep.JeffreyPerry@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2396 Sandwich

Rep.KathiReinstein@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2230 Revere

Rep.MikeRush@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2637 Boston

Rep.TimothyToomey@Hou.State.MA.US 722-2692 Cambridge

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what does it mean when you say NSPN and the ACA "...urges expansion of state safety training and outreach efforts for human-powered craft, through schools, recreation programs, paddling organizations and commercial paddlesport operations..."

you are recommending the state pony up the money for education?

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>you are recommending the state pony up the money for education?

Yeah... money, at least some. The "let's pass a law" approach is attractive, but frankly, not very effective (except for political purposes).

If I were in the paddling education business, I'd sure be willing to do that kind of thing at a very reduced rate, if not for free. It's not only a public service, it has a self-serving effect too, namely getting more folks into subsequent courses -- my courses! In other words, it's win-win.


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huh...i'd like to go to wales again next year to get further experience and increase my skills in rough water. this will only do good things for me on the water, keep me safe and most likely prevent us all from incurring the cost of launching the coasties....would you guys all mind sending me $5?

really, it's cheaper than the cg option.

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... But I think Rick may be missing what I am suggesting. So here it is...

The local town recreation department gets a chunk of $$ from the state to run free paddling safety courses for kids and adults during the summer. You, as a certified instructor and public-spirited sort of fellow, sign up to deliver some of those courses, at a rate significantly lower than usual. So, say it's a two or three hour course down at the local beach, and you and a couple of assistants get, say $200 for delivering two or three sessions in a day to 10 kids each. The beach lifeguards help out too.

They (or a local outfitter) supply some rec boats, canoes and cheapo pfd's; you bring some white water and long boats. You give a neat course on paddling basics with a big emphasis on safety -- always wear a PFD and why, wet exiting, emptying a boat, basic strokes, some games, where to go/not go in what kinds of boats, hypothermia issues, etc. You hand out some brochures, show off the various kinds of boats, look macho for the kids with your knife, radio, tow belt and spray skirt, wow 'em with some rolling and sculling, cowboy re-entires, etc. The kids get to mess around in boats and water, have some fun and, we hope, pick up some decent attitudes and propensities, so if they ever do go out on their own, they might actually wear a PFD and some decent clothing.

You let it be known that you do this kind of thing as a business, and paddle off into the sunset, secure in the knowledge that you may have saved a future life or two, and with a few more people thinking you are a neat resource for further instruction.

OK, this is more likely to suit an outfitter with a fleet of rec boats than a freelance coach, but even a loner can probably find a way to get in on it.

Make any sense? I'd rather see the legislature fund this kind of thing than sit around and fling nasty thunderbolts into the paddling industry while thinking they are actually helping.


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i agree with the idea that legislation is not the way to accomplish the goal and i agree that education is a better method of providing the back ground necessary to start making better and informed decisions regarding paddling.

i positively (better?) disagree that the education should be sponsored, funded or provided for in any way by the state. the # of people benefiting from that funding is insignificant. with the great # of things that would/should/could be funded as a priority OVER kayak education i think the argument is moot but never the less, i am staunchly against it.

for the record bob, i thought it was polite discourse and was using the point of a $5 contribution to illustrate the similarity of a great # of people paying for the benefit of a very small # of people. hardly fair and you went so far as to think it was offensive...so it's offensive when i ask for money to further my paddling education but it isn't offensive when WE ask for $ to fund paddling education?

and regardless of the fact that we apparently disagree on what better alternatives to this legislation would be, i thank liz and david for going and attempting to make it clear that this bill considered today was an ineffective and ill conceived step.

but no offense taken bob. tell you what, feel free to send $5 if it makes you feel better.

and david while i see the benefit as an instructor and paddler i do not see the benefit as a taxpayer. how many people kayak in massachusetts? two thousand, three thousand? even if you said five thousand people...that's still less than a tenth of 1% so why would the other 6,395,000 residents of the state want to pay for that?

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then as a community, we try to make it work on the retail side for people.....coach/instructor hooks up with local retailer and offers discounted classes through the retail outlet - the retailer turns around and sells the boat at a discount if the buyer takes the class.

the retailer takes $25 less on the boat to pay the instructor and the new paddler has a retail outlet and an instructor they've met and paddled with and are probably going to be around for a long, long time.

none of which requires government oversight or funding.

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