By 5 pm Tuesday, March 14, we need as many equine organizations, businesses, and events that utilize liability waivers to sign onto this letter. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to add your name/logo.
Re: SB 754 Recreational Liability Reform
Chair Prozanski and Members of the Committee:
We represent the broader Oregon equestrian community, and collectively we write to emphasize our strong support for Senate bill 754, which would allow recreational businesses and organizations to enforce releases of liability.
Our coalition of equestrian groups provide a wide variety of safe recreational activities, from volunteer trail building groups, horse riding and training centers, and local and regional fairs, to legacy rodeo events, outfitter guides, and competitive jumping and show horse competitions. The breadth of our organizations underscores the deep economic impacts and tax revenues we generate in Oregon, especially from smaller, independently owned equestrian businesses in rural communities. Importantly, our organizations provide affordable recreational access for Oregonians, and we are suffering from steep increases in insurance premiums, in part due to the fact that Oregon, unlike other western states, does not enforce releases of liability.
Oregonians want affordable, safe, and reliable access to recreation, and this bill would allow our equestrian groups to provide such opportunities. We are aware of other recreational businesses closing or cutting back opportunities due to the lack of affordable insurance.
Also, we write to stress that while Oregon’s equine laws passed in the 1990s seemingly allow our organizations to use releases—see, e.g., ORS 30.687 through 30.697—that statute has instead created significant uncertainty about the viability of enforceable releases, in turn limiting expansion and growth opportunities for such recreation. Since that legislation passed in the 1990s, we are not aware of a single court case where a judge has enforced a liability release under these equine laws.
Senate bill 754 would provide far better liability protection from unmeritorious lawsuits, ensure affordable insurance, and expand recreational opportunities for Oregonians. We urge your support.
Oregon Horse Council
Backcountry Horsemen of Oregon
Oregon Equestrian Trails
The Oregon Horse Council is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit that works to strengthen, connect, and represent Oregon’s equine industry.