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ADVOCACY UPDATE: INHERENT RISK WINS KEEP COMING

It’s another win for inherent risk legislation and campground owners. The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (National ARVC) has been working closely with the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council, Inc. (IMHA-RVIC) and Ohio Campground Owners Association (OCOA) to pass two important pieces of legislation in their respective states.

The bills offer owners, operators and employees of campgrounds and RV parks protection from frivolous lawsuits when an injury or death occurs as a result of an inherent risk of camping.

“National ARVC and our state associations are always looking out for our members, monitoring legislation at the local, state and national levels. We are working to create legislation to better our industry and on the lookout for legislation that could have negative effects,” says Jeff Sims, National ARVC’s senior director of state relations and program advocacy.

Indiana’s SB343, the Campground Limited Liability bill, authored by State Senator Linda Rogers (R-Granger) and State Senator Blake Doriot (R-Goshen) has been signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb and becomes effective July 1, 2022.  It specifies that camping, canoeing, kayaking, tubing on a river, and winter sports are included in the definition of “agritourism activities.”

“The importance of this legislation is that the provider of these services would not be liable for an injury to, or death of, a participant in agritourism activities at their location if the death or injury results from the inherent risks of agritourism activity,” said Ron Breymier, Executive Director of IMHA-RVIC.

Representative Doug Miller (R-Elkhart) was the House sponsor and Representatives Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) and Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) served as House co-sponsors.

Ohio’s HB229 provides qualified immunity to camp operators for harm arising from a risk inherent to camping.

“We are so happy to offer this extra layer of protection for our members as they head into the 2022 camping season,” Kristy M. Smith, executive director of the Ohio Campground Owners Association said. “After a few long years of hard work on this bill, it has been signed by the Governor and will become effective May 28, 2022.  We thank our association leaders for working with their legislators and coming to Columbus to testify on the bill.  We also thank our lobbyist, Amanda Sines, and our bill sponsors, DJ Swearingen and Shane Wilkin, for their hard work in making this happen.”

Wisconsin was the first state to pass an inherent risk bill in 2016, thanks to a coordinated effort by the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) and attorney Mark Hazelbaker who shepherded the bill to passage. That bill has served as a guide for other states looking to pass similar legislation. Missouri followed in the summer of 2021 through a coordinated effort between the Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (MOARC) and National ARVC.

Other inherent risk bills have been introduced this year in South Dakota and Michigan and National ARVC is working with these states to ensure passage and signature by the governors in both states. National ARVC is also currently working with state associations in Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia to pursue similar inherent risk bills.

Learn more about National ARVC’s broad advocacy efforts on our Advocacy page, which includes links to current advocacy campaigns, updates on current legislation affecting the outdoor hospitality industry and current recalls. You may also contact the ARVC Advocacy team if you have questions, need advocacy support or would like to get involved with our efforts.

To learn more about starting the legislative process to pass inherent risk legislation in your state, contact Jeff Sims at jeff.sims@arvc.org.