TOPEKA Kansas legislators who have considered delaying tougher regulations for amusement parks abruptly canceled a debate Friday following the death of a toddler who was injured at a carnival in Wichita.
The House had been scheduled to debate a bill that would delay the new regulations for another year, until July 2018. The rules include tougher inspection and injury-reporting requirements and were a response to the death last summer of state Rep. Scott Schwab’s 10-year-old son, Caleb, on a giant waterslide at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Despite the near-unanimous support in both chambers only last month, some lawmakers still harbored misgivings that the rules could hurt small county fairs and carnivals. The Department of Labor asked for a delay so that it would have more time to develop a new permitting process and out of concern that some operators couldn’t comply with the new rules by July.
But on Friday, The Wichita Eagle reported that the parents of 15-month-old Pressley Bartonek issued a statement through a Wichita hospital that the young girl died from injuries suffered May 12 at the local carnival. Family members told the newspaper she was swinging from a handrail in front of a ride and may have been shocked by a live wire.
Republicans were circumspect about why the debate was canceled, with House Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton saying, “We just decided to wait for a different day.”
But Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said it was because of the announcement of the toddler’s death, reported before the debate was to begin.
“It might have been in poor taste,”…
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