State Legislation

The latest news on federal and state legislation important to the
mobile amusement industry.

 

NEW YORK

The carnival industry continues to seek an exemption from the state’s overtime regulations for seasonal carnival employees to mirror surrounding states and conform to the federal government’s FLSA exemption for seasonal, amusement and recreation businesses. A new bill filed by Senator Maziarz and Representative Magee has had more progress this year than in the past. These bills would give an exemption from overtime after 40 hours to carnivals that come into the state for short durations.

OHIO

House Bill 483, the Governor’s mid-biennium review (MBR) bill, an omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives in mid-April, under review by the Senate Finance Committee in May, contains ride inspection fee changes as well as definition changes. This includes amusement rides and inflatable air supported attractions.

The definition of a “kiddie ride” means an amusement ride designed for use by children under 13 years of age who are accompanied by another person. This definition includes a roller coaster that is not more than forty feet in elevation at any point on the ride.

Annual inspection and re-inspection of a roller coaster is proposed to increase from $950 to $1,200; for inflatable attractions the inspection fee and re-inspection fee is $105 for either kiddie or adult attraction. Permit fees remain at $150 per ride.

SOUTH DAKOTA

The South Dakota Legislature has given final approval to a measure that would further regulate amusement rides with SD 1168. This new law is expected to take effect this year.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Al Novstrup of Aberdeen, says the bill would impose regulations similar to those in other states and is supported by industry trade groups. Novstrup is president of Thunder Road, a chain of family fun parks in the Dakotas.

Mobile amusement rides, such as those that travel from state to state, already must have insurance. The bill would require those rides to have yearly certified inspections and daily inspections by operators. Rides fixed in one place also would have to be inspected daily.

The measure was proposed by Rep. Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls after a 2013 carnival accident that left two teenage girls suspended upside down on a ride.

TENNESSEE

Tennessee has created new rules for zip lines amid concerns of attractions opening in different counties. “Before we even look at the equipment, we want to make sure they have the appropriate insurance coverage. We want to make sure they have any daily, weekly or monthly maintenance that they do on it and then a daily inspection sheet,” said Amusement Device Inspector Neal Vojtkofsky. “The state requires that there’s a third-party inspection whether it be another government agency or insurance company, and you can guarantee it’s been looked at, at least twice.”

WASHINGTON

Seattle’s City Council on June 2 unanimously approved the adoption of a $15 per hour minimum wage, the highest wage floor of any city in the U.S. and more than twice the federal level. The measure, which would take effect on April 1, 2015, includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years.

FEDERAL & STATE

Minimum Wage  

  • 38 states have considered minimum wage bills during the 2014 session; 34 states are considering increases to the state minimum wage.
  • Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia and D.C. have enacted increases so far in 2014.
  • As of May 28, the legislature in Vermont passed an increase but the bill is awaiting action by the Vermont governor.
  • As of June 1, 22 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.
  • 19 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands have minimum wages the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
  • 4 states, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico have minimum wages below the federal minimum wage (the federal minimum thus applies).
  • 1 state, New Hampshire, repealed their state minimum wage in 2011, but left the reference to the federal minimum wage.

Five states have not established a state minimum wage.

It appears more prevalent that the states in the higher cost of living areas in the U.S. have taken matters in their own hands and have increased their state’s minimum wage. Be sure to check with your accountant on this as some states have already increased this wage this year and in the future.