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State Sen. Geraldine Thompson Presents Tyre Sampson Amusement Park Bill Monday

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State Senator Geraldine Thompson speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Opening Day of the 2023 Legislative Session at the Florida State Capitol Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.
State Senator Geraldine Thompson speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Opening Day of the 2023 Legislative Session at the Florida State Capitol Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Senator Geraldine Thompson is scheduled to speak on her Tyre Sampson Act bill (SB 902) and Public Records/Active Amusement Ride Investigation bill (SB 904) in the State Senate Agriculture Committee at 3:30pm ET today.

Shortly before the hearing, Sen. Thompson spoke with the press to clarify what the SB 902 bill proposes for amusement parks.

 

Here are some of the requirements:

– signage for height and weight requirements
– an annual affidavit and a third party to inspect rides and commission approving the ride
– a duty to report to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) after permit to operate
– training (beyond having 18-year-olds with limited training operating the ride)
– perform maintenance and changes (due to metal fatigue, etc.); there will be unannounced and more frequent inspections
– require seatbelts on any ride that goes above 100 feet (Freefall ride didn’t require seatbelts with the other restraint)
– accident reporting (for any emergency care, including Urgent Care centers, not just hospitals)

 

When Florida National News asked what her initial reaction was when she learned during the investigation that the Freefall ride had no safety belts, she replied, “I’m surprised…I don’t think you should put profits over people. For an additional $20-50 dollars, you could’ve secured the safety of Tyre Sampson [with a safety belt]. Therefore, I decided to amend the bill to require a seatbelt as a redundancy, and not just have it as an option.”

FNN News also asked who would be responsible for choosing the third party inspector for the rides. Sen. Thompson explained that the company can choose and would be responsible for paying for 3rd party based on the criteria for third party inspectors in the legislation. We followed up asking what would happen if companies push back on having to not only allow for more and unannounced inspections and then also be responsible for paying for them. She replied that companies will have to include these inspection costs in their budgets. “How do you put a price on the life of an individual?” she asked.

Sen. Thompson was asked about her public records exemption request for the investigation of the Free Fall Ride on International Drive in the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson almost a year ago. She explained that she requested the exemption because the investigation wasn’t completed. Once it was, the records were made available, and she added that the fines charged could only be made available at the end of the investigation.

So how would this legislation affect older rides and new rides if it becomes law? Sen. Thompson explained that, if it becomes law, it would apply to any ride launched after July 1, 2023. In fact, it would also affect carnival rides. “Every time you move a temp ride, an inspection would be required–at fairs and carnivals; also go-carts, and bungee jumping rides.”

When asked about her thoughts on the ride being taken down near the anniversary of Tyre Sampson’s death, she replied, “This says that it’s not business as usual. The State of Florida is taking this very seriously. We’re communicating very clearly that this is not business as usual and honoring this young man’s life by calling it the Tyre Sampson Act.”

Sen. Thompson says this bill is expected to have bipartisan support. She mentioned that she has spoken to the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and noted that this is not a partisan issue, but a public safety issue.

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Mellissa Thomas is the Editor of Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

Central Florida News

State Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis’s Safety Standards for Amusement Rides Bill Passed First Committee

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This week, Representative LaVon Bracy Davis’s (D-Ocoee) HB 1241 Safety Standards for Amusement Rides, also known as the Tyre Sampson Act, passed its first committee. Tyre Sampson was a promising young man who visited Orlando almost exactly one year ago for spring break and fell 400 feet from the Free Fall ride when his harness failed. Tragically, Tyre died on impact. This bill creates more safety precautions and inspections for amusement park rides including stricter safety standards, more signage, and further inspections.

“On behalf of the Sampson family, we are incredibly grateful to Senator Thompson and Representative Bracy Davis for their dedication to The Sampson family and the safety of all Floridians. We are also grateful to the bipartisan unanimous group of Senators and Representatives who have voted to move this good bill forward. Tyre Sampson was a 14-year-old son, star student, and star athlete who lost his life in a tragic and preventable accident that was the direct result of unthinkable negligence. This bill ensures that Tyre’s legacy will be to make sure that an incident like this never happens to anyone else’s child,” stated Todd Michaels and Michael Haggard, attorneys from The Haggard Law Firm who represent Sampson’s mother.

Representative Bracy Davis stated, “Tyre Sampson was a smart, athletic, and kind boy with big dreams that he will never be able to accomplish. What happened to Tyre was devastating, leaving a hole in his family that will never be filled. Visitors from out of state, like Tyre, as well as Floridians, should be able to trust that we do our due diligence to keep them safe when they come to enjoy the many attractions Florida offers. This bill will do that, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bill to the floor.”

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Central Florida News

Sheriff’s Office investigating fatal shooting at Aqua Vista Drive in Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – On March 28, 2023 at 11:53 p.m., Orange County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the 4300 block of Aqua Vista Drive for a shooting call and found a man in his 30s in the parking lot who had been shot. He was pronounced dead on scene.

The Sheriff’s office said, it’s very early in the investigation and we have no suspect information at this time.

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Central Florida News

Senator Linda Stewart joins Senator Jason Brodeur in co-introducing SB 880: Biosolids

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Tallahassee, FL – Senator Linda Stewart (D – Orange County) joins Senator Jason Brodeur (R – Seminole County) in co-introducing SB 880: Biosolids.

This bill establishes a grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection for municipalities seeking to convert wastewater into useable biosolids. Wastewater treatment processes separate liquids and solids in order to create a nutrient rich earth like matter known as biosolds. In order to create the highest quality of biosolids, known as Class A, the separated solid waste must be treated in a manner that eliminates pathogens before its distribution to users.

“Our state has long been affected by its lack of wide-spread sewer systems, and has been in desperate need of proper funding to modernize and expand the systems we currently have. By creating this grant program we will remove the harmful nutrients that continue to overload our waterways and lead to dangerous events such as algae blooms,” said Stewart.

Class A biosolids have many important applications in place of chemical fertilizers. With their high standards for treatment of pathogens, they are able to be used as both agricultural and at home alternates to chemical fertilizers that leach into nearby water supplies, resulting in the death of native species and reducing human use of waterways.

“It’s time we utilize our wastewater to its fullest potential, and through treating our wastewater and producing biosolids we have a win-win-win situation. We upgrade our water treatment infrastructure that stops sewage seepage into water sources, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous levels that degrade our environment, and produce a useable product that’s superior to our synthetic versions on the market today,” said Stewart

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