News: Washington State House Votes To Criminalize Ducking Ropes

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From The Seattle Times:

The state House on Wednesday passed a bill making it a misdemeanor to ski in clearly marked closed hazard areas at ski resorts, while the Senate OK'd a measure canceling the 2012 presidential primary.

The House approved the measure targeting out-of-bounds skiers after contentious debate within both parties.

Supporters argued that a criminal trespassing charge and a potential $1,000 fine would help deter behavior that causes avalanches and endangers the lives of ski-patrol and search-and-rescue workers.

"This is a lot more than somebody simply skiing past a sign," said Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw. "When you have volunteers from the neighborhood that are sometimes spending days to find someone, the lives of the people doing these operations are far more valuable than a misdemeanor crime."

But opponents say criminalizing recreational behavior is overreaching and could result in young people unwittingly receiving blots on their permanent records.

Opponents favored a $500 fine and more harshly worded signs.

"To stick a child or a youth with a criminal record just doesn't strike me as incentivizing people not to do this," said Rep. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, in opposition. "They don't understand the total consequences."

The bill applies to runs that are inbounds at ski areas but have been intentionally marked and closed off for safety reasons.

The measure returns to the Senate for approval of amendments.

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