CALL TO ACTION: Ride Safety Budget Cuts

Dear Members & Friends,

I’m sure many of you are concerned and worried about what the future looks like for our industry. I wanted to reach out to you personally, to let you know that we are diligently working everyday to have our voices heard.

  • Our lobbyist, Amanda Sines, has been reaching out to many of the elected officials in Columbus.
  • We have had a zoom call with Senate Floor Leader Matt Huffman and have been in contact with Speaker of the House Larry Householder.
  • We are currently trying to get seats on a task force to help navigate opening mass gatherings and events again.

Other important news everyone in our industry needs to be concerned about is the recent announcement that the ODA has decided to abolish ALL positions within the Division of Amusement Ride Safety and Fairs, with the exception of one administrative position, and the now vacant Chief Amusement Ride Inspector, effective May 22nd. This includes all ride inspectors, the Director of Fairs, and an additional administrative position. Without these positions, or plans on the next step, NO rides and games will be licensed in the state of Ohio in 2020 and the future of fairs in years to come is uncertain.

We have also been informed that there is a strong desire within the ODA to possibly privatize the Ride Safety Division within the state of Ohio. We have it upon good authority, this is the direction they are actively trying to, and will likely move towards. We do not know whether it will be completely privatized or contracted through a third party. Regardless, the many years of hard work that the GOSA, in conjunction with the OFMA, has done to protect our industry here in Ohio, is in jeopardy. This includes the most recent legislative measure, the implementation of Tyler’s Law, of which all parties were in favor of.

This DOES and WILL affect every single member of the GOSA. Moving to a private or third party system passes more costs onto already financially strapped fairs and/or their ride providers. If you don’t believe this affects you, think of what your county fair or local festival would be like without rides. Even worse, what your season would look like without the county fairs/festivals that are already struggling to survive. This is cause for concern for all of us. We need to know now, what the future of the Ride Safety department looks like and if a decision on 2020 fairs has been made by the administration, and just withheld from the public. For those of you that don’t know just how much the Amusement Ride Safety Division does, here’s a short list of their responsibilities, as listed on their website:

“The Ohio Division of Amusement Ride Safety and Fairs works to license and inspect all amusement rides before they operate to verify that rides are assembled, maintained and operated to manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations. Along with the initial inspection, Amusement Ride Safety inspectors will conduct supplemental and mid season operational inspections on amusement rides. The inspectors evaluate everything from the structural integrity, safety systems and signage to general ride operations. Amusement rides inspected under Ohio law include mechanical rides, roller coasters, go-karts, water rides at water parks and inflatable devices. In addition to amusement ride inspections, inspectors ensure that midway games of skill and side shows operating at all 94 county and independent agricultural fairs and the Ohio State Fair are skillful and properly operated. Annually, more than 7,000 concession inspections are conducted during these fairs.”
What can you do?
  • Reach out to your representatives and voice your opinion.
  • Use the opportunity to stress the struggle your business faces if you can’t reopen this year and the importance of these annual events, both to local economies and you personally.
  • Speak out in support of our Division of Amusement Ride Safety and Fairs. Ohio’s program has always been one of the leader’s in the nation, and to lose it would be devastating to Ohio’s fair industry.
  • Ask your legislator what abolishing these positions means to the recent passing of Tyler’s Law.
  • Ask your legislator what the plan for county fairs is this summer and in the future.
  • Ask your legislators how rides will be inspected in the future.

We need answers. Now, more than ever, we need your help and support in this matter. Now is not the time to sit back and be silent and hope the board and other members speak out to protect you. Every voice matters, and there is strength in numbers. If you choose to remain silent, then the blame will be partly yours if the landscape of the fair industry of Ohio is changed forever.

Find your legislators:  https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/
If you already know your district/representatives, you can find the list with mailing address and clickable email to link HERE.

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

David Drake, President