A Bill that would make it illegal to sell non-releasable snowboarding bindings in Utah has been introduced and is making its way through that state’s Legislature, and could be voted into law as soon as next week. What was first seen as a joke by many in the snowboard industry, has become a serious issue as the Bill was approved by a Utah House of Representatives standing committee and has been moved to the full House today for a vote.

While slow to see the threat, the snowboard industry has quickly rallied to fight the Bill that could have widespread negative affect on the entire sport. Snowsports Industries America President David Ingemie has helped put together a coalition of suppliers to work together to fight the Bill, while other industry organizations including Ski Utah, the National Ski Areas Association, and local shops have also been contacted to lobby against the Bill. “I’ve called up K2, Rossignol, Burton, Sims, Gen X, and Salomon to get them involved,” says Ingemie. “We also have a lobby firm working on this right now.”

The Bill was sponsored by Representative Katherine Bryson, a Republican who represents District 60 in the area of West Orem, Utah.Introduced into the House on January 27, H.B. 332 is titled Release Binding Technology on Snowboards and Ski-boards and states: “It is a violation of this chapter for a supplier to sell or rent a snowboard, ski-board, or similar product as part of a consumer transaction unless the supplier: (a) offers release binding technology for the snowboard or ski-board to the consumer; and (b) provides notice to the consumer of the risks associated with nonrelease bindings in accordance with standards established by rule.”

At issue is the use and sale of nonrelease bindings, which just about everyone in the entire industry is against. “Everyone knows its more dangerous to have your foot fly out of your bindings at high speeds than to have non-releasable bindings,” says Shawn Taylor, assistant manager/supervisor of Milo Sport, the oldest and one of the largest snowboard shops in Salt Lake City. “Going through an icy park and having your foot fly out is so unsafe that it will cause more injuries than we see today. I don’t think the Bill will happen. Once the word gets out, you’ll see a lot more action by riders. There’s no reasonable justification for one person to influence legislation about snowboarding.”

K2′s Director of Sales Luke Edgar also believes that this Bill only represents a very small minority opinion in the snowboard world: “If you ever surveyed riders and retailers, nobody would want this. That’s why lower body injuries in snowboarding are less for snowboarding than skiing, because you’re locked in.”

The association that represents Utah resorts, Ski Utah, is also against the Bill. “We feel the Bill will be damaging to snowboarding industry at this stage,” says Ski Utah President Kip Pitou. “And to be singled out and be the first state to have this happen to would not be positive for us. We would like to see this bill not pass.”

Ski Utah’s legal council and lobbyist Gordon Strachan has been actively involved working with the legislature to fight the Bill. He is also representing Burton Snowboards.

Going even further, Burton’s North American Sales Manager Clark Gundlach says that he’s sent a fax to all of the company’s Utah dealers giving them a head’s up on the situation and encouraging them to contact their local representative or senator to fight the Bill. “I think this is a threat to the entire industry,” he adds.

SNOWboarding Business will continue to monitor this situation as it happens.

What the Bill says:

H.B. 332 Release Binding Technology on Snowboards and Ski-boards

An act relating to commerce and trade; requiring a supplier to offer release binding technology in conjunction with the sale or rental of snowboards or ski-boards; and granting rulemaking authority.
This act affects sections of Utah Code Annotated 1953 as follows:
Enaacts: 13-11-5.1, Utah Code Annotated 1953 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
Section 1. Section 13-11-5.1 is enacted to read:
13-11-5.1. Requirement to offer release bindings with snowboards.
(1) It is a violation of this chapter for a supplier to sell or rent a snowboard, ski-board, or similar product as part of a consumer transaction unless the supplier: (a) offers release binding technology for the snowboard or ski-board to the consumer; and (b) provides notice to the consumer of the risks associated with nonrelease bindings in accordance with standards established by rule.
(2) The division may make rules in accordance with Title 63, Chapter 46a, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, to implement the provisions of Subsection (1).
Legislative Review Note
as of 2-8-00 5:31 PM
A limited legal review of this legislation raises no obvious constitutional or statutory concerns.