So it looks like Hawaii won’t be regulating ziplining any time soon. On Feb. 7, the state House Economic Revitalization and Business (ERB) Committee voted to defer HB 2060, a bill that would have established “standards and regulations” for zipline companies and “canopy tour operators” throughout the state.
This normally wouldn’t be big news except for a few small details. First, ziplining is big now. In just a few years, lines have been strung all over Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island. Second, a construction worker building a zipline tower fell to his death on Hawaii Island back in September–the first zipline fatality in U.S. history. And lastly, the bill died under pressure not from the state’s zipline operators, who for the most part cautiously favored the bill, but from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR), which would have begun inspecting zipline operators.
“We oppose this measure as written as it includes recommendations that are too problematic to implement and would entail higher costs,” noted DLIR Director Dwight Takamine in a Feb. 7 letter to the House ERB committee.
Problematic? Higher costs? Shocking! Who ever would have thought that increased regulations might end up being “problematic” and would incur “higher costs?”
But Takamine continued. Takamine noted that the fees mentioned in the bill wouldn’t even come close to paying for increased inspectors, training and the costs of flying to and from the neighbor islands, where most of the state’s zipline tours are located, which are all valid points. But Takamine’s solution was a bit more problematic:
“The department questions whether owners and operators of ziplines and canopy tours should be allowed to inspect their own equipment in the manner that owner-users do for boilers and pressure vessels,” Takamine added. “The department lacks the expertise to render judgment at this time, but notes that the criteria for owner-users of boilers and pressure vessels are very high standards. Such inspectors hold a national certification, pass examinations prescribed by the department, develop and maintain rigorous self-regulatory regimes approved by the department, and are continuously employed by an inspection agency. Insurance companies authorized to insure boiler and pressure vessels in the state employ special boiler inspectors.”
There’s a good point in there, but in the process Takamine has opened a very big door: why should the state even have a Department of Labor and Industrial Relations inspectors for anything if local companies and trade groups can set up their own inspection teams and regulations?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons