Protect Oregon Recreation Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Restore Liability Waiver Protection

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Protect Oregon Recreation Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Restore Liability Waiver Protection

Bill will restore long-standing, balanced approach that exists in every other western state

SALEM, Ore. – January 19, 2023 – Protect Oregon Recreation today praised the introduction of Senate Bill 754, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Woods (D) and co-sponsored by Sens. Bill Hansell (R) and Tim Knopp (R) and Reps. John Lively (D), David Gomberg (D) and Ken Helm (D). Backed by bipartisan support, the proposed reform is crucial to the accessibility and affordability of recreation and fitness for people across Oregon.

The bill is in response to recent court rulings that have effectively nullified Oregon liability waivers. Oregon businesses are now paying significantly more for liability insurance than other western states. As a result, recreation and fitness providers are forced to either increase consumer costs or eliminate recreation options altogether. This will have a devastating effect on small businesses, rural communities and recreationists throughout the state. 

“Access to recreation, especially health clubs and gyms, is essential to the health and well-being of Oregonians across the state,” said Jim Zupancic, president of the board of directors for the Oregon Health & Fitness Alliance. “We applaud the leadership of Senator Woods for introducing legislation that will help preserve access to recreation and fitness for all of our communities.”

Oregon indoor and outdoor recreation providers generate $16.75 billion in economic activity, which makes them an economic force across the state. Collectively, they employ 245,000 Oregonians and contribute more than $1 billion in tax revenue to the state and local communities. Reducing recreation opportunities will disproportionately harm small businesses across Oregon, both urban and rural.

With this legislation, Oregon will return to the same liability standard as every other western state. Like California and Washington, individuals who engage in inherently risky activities will accept responsibility for their activity, while businesses will be held accountable for the safety of their operations. This is common sense and a well-established approach. Now, Oregon businesses shoulder substantially all the risk, and this imbalance threatens the viability of those businesses and recreation options for people across the state.

“Connecting with the outdoors is embedded into our DNA as Oregonians,” said Jordan Elliott, president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association.“Without waiver reform, Oregonians risk losing access to their favorite outdoor activities across our state’s mountains, trails, lakes and rivers.”

Protect Oregon Recreation was founded by the Oregon Health & Fitness Alliance, Oregon Outdoor Alliance and Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association. The coalition’s rapidly growing membership includes almost 100 local businesses, non-profits and user groups that provide recreation and fitness opportunities to Oregonians and those who travel here to participate in the recreational activities Oregon has to offer. Like many businesses, recreation and fitness businesses struggle with inflation, natural disasters and the recent pandemic. Oregon’s recreation and fitness industry needs the support of lawmakers and the public to survive, and waiver reform is a meaningful step toward a more certain future.

For more information and to sign a petition in support of the bill, visit www.protectoregonrec.org.

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