Ride safety the focus of revised version of Tyler’s Law

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Last spring, Tyler’s Law was introduced at the Ohio Statehouse, less than a year after a tragic accident took the life of Tyler Jarrell at the Ohio State Fair. 

Jarrell was on the Fireball when it came apart in the middle of the ride. 

After months of searching for answers over why this occurred and bringing those answers forward, a new question emerged; what could be done to prevent it in the future. 

Tyler’s Law was born out of that same thread of concern. 

However, it was a tumultuous time at the Ohio Statehouse in the late spring of 2018 and the bill did not get attention immediately. 

There was a fight brewing over who would replace Cliff Rosenberger who had just suddenly stepped down as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and resigned. 

Bills were backing up on the floor of the House as two factions within the Republican Caucus warred over who would lead the chamber. 

Finally, after nearly six weeks, the situation was resolved; during the weeks leading up to that I asked then Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee when or if Tyler’s Law would get hearings. 

I was told he was waiting to see who would take over as Speaker of the House. 

This is not uncommon as the Speaker of the House tends to set the legislative agenda. 

Once it was determined that Rep. Ryan Smith would be that man, things began to flow again but Tyler’s Law was not made a priority. 

After determining who would sit on the Iron Throne that is the dais of the Ohio House of Representatives, lawmakers went on summer break and didn’t return for any substantial amount of time until after the election in November. 

Months went by as Tyler’s Law waited for hearings. Work was trying to be done on the bill, but when lawmakers are back in their home districts campaigning to win their seats back not much was accomplished.  

When they all came back in the fall, Tyler’s Law could not make it through the legislative process fast enough and the bill died as the end of December came and went taking with it the 132 General Assembly. 

The delay brought with it changes that would benefit the bill’s future according to one of its sponsors. 

With Governor Mike DeWine taking office and choosing former State Representative Dorothy Pelanda as the Director of the Department of Agriculture, the bill’s sponsors had someone who understood what they were trying to accomplish. 

According to State Representative John Patterson, Pelanda has worked with them to make changes to the bill so that it could carry her blessing. 

Patterson also says DeWine has personally spoken to Tyler’s mother Amber Duffield. 

This is more support than the bill had under the Kasich Administration just months beforehand, but Patterson says that could be due to having worked through more of the bill; earning that support. 

Whatever the reason, Duffield says her family was devastated when the bill failed to pass last year, but now they have hope. 

“I think with the new changes it is much more improved for our safety and the restoration of our faith in Ohio taking care of us,” said Duffield. 

She says this whole ordeal has shown the family that getting legislation passed, no matter how altruistic, is not always a quick or easy thing to do. 

“It is a process and with that process it becomes more and more positive as it goes,” said Duffield. 

This General Assembly, Patterson quickly found a co-joint sponsor in State Representative Louis Blessing III. 

The two were given their first hearing in front of the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee Tuesday; another change as the bill is not being heard in the front of the Agriculture Committee. 

Patterson is optimistic. Given it is early in the General Assembly he is hopeful to get the bill passed quickly. 

Ideally it would be to the Governor before the Ohio State Fair opens this year, and it carries an emergency clause that would have it go into effect immediately if he signs it. 

Fair and carnival season has already arrived here in Ohio. 

Rides are already being brought into the state, set up and used for Ohioans to enjoy. 

While they are being inspected, the changes the bill would make are meant to make those inspections catch more problems and prevent more death. 

Here is a list of things the bill would do. 

– Requires a temporary amusement ride owner to submit the Department of Agriculture a list of locations and dates where the temporary ride was either stored for a period longer than 30 days or operated outside of Ohio.  

– Alter the existing amusement ride classification system so that those rides that need more comprehensive inspection and testing in addition to regular state inspections are identified. The new protocols for ride classification must take into account hidden components integral to the safety of the ride;  

– Specify the minimum number of inspections to be conducted on each ride depending on the size, complexity, nature of the ride, and the number of days the ride is in operation during the year for which the applicable permit is valid.  

– An individual holding a level one or higher inspector certification from either the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO), the Amusement Industry Manufacturers and suppliers (AIMS) International, or another substantially equivalent organization as determined by the director; and  

– An individual who intends, within one year of being hired as an inspector, to complete the requirements for issuance of a level one or higher inspector certification from NAARSO, AIMS International, or another substantially equivalent organization as determined by the Director.   

– The owner of an amusement ride must make each manual required to be kept available upon request of the Chief Inspector or any additional inspector who is employed by the Department of Agriculture.   

– The Department or any inspector employed by the Department may request an owner’s record at any time. Upon request, the owner must make the record available to the Department or inspector. Temporary Amusement Rides:  

– The bill requires a temporary amusement ride owner to submit to the Department a list of locations and dates where the temporary ride, which is an amusement ride that is relocated at least once per year with or without disassembly, 8 was either stored for a period longer than 30 days or operated outside of Ohio. After review of the list, the Department may require additional testing, inspections, and documentation to be completed prior to issuing a permit. It requires the Director to adopt rules establishing timetables and procedures for providing and updating the information on the list. The bill retains current law that requires a temporary amusement ride owner also to submit, to the Department, a tentative schedule of events at which the owner’s ride will operate during the upcoming season.  

– If an inspector employed by or under contract with the Department issues a written order to an amusement ride owner to replace or repair a component or components of the amusement ride, the owner must respond in writing to the Department within the time specified in the order indicating the action the owner is taking to address the issue. If the replacements or repairs have not been completed within the time specified in the order, the Director must determine whether the amusement ride or component or components of the ride may continue to operate.   

– The bill requires certain persons or entities that receive any communication regarding safety issues pertaining to an amusement ride from an amusement ride manufacturer, or other entity responsible for parts or service, to forward the communication to the Chief Inspector and the Director.  

– The communication must be forwarded within a reasonable time after receiving the communication. The following persons or entities are required to forward the communication to the Chief Inspector and Director: An amusement ride owner; The Department of Agriculture; The Ohio Expositions Commission; A county agricultural society fair board; and An independent agricultural society fair board.  

– After receiving the communication, the Chief Inspector must provide for a reinspection of the amusement ride if the Chief Inspector determines that re-inspection is necessary. 

– The bill also requires the Director to include, on amusement ride inspection forms prescribed by the Department, a line for the amusement ride owner to sign indicating that all relevant safety and maintenance communications from the manufacturer have been forwarded to the Director and the Chief Inspector.

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