Letter to the editor: Governor right to reject S.105

I want to thank Gov. Scott for vetoing S.105. I also thank all of the individuals, businesses and organizations who supported VOGA (Vermont Outdoor Guide Association, of which I am executive director) in our movement against it. We had 76 businesses including nine statewide organizations sign our letter to Gov. Scott and many sent their own letters urging him to veto this waiver busting bill.
S.105 was a regulation regarding consumer justice enforcement and prohibited unconscionable terms in contracts.
If passed, Vermont would be the first in the nation to implement this regulation. While other states support their recreation-based industry with laws supporting waivers and release forms, our elected officials seem oblivious to the needs of our industry.
Recreation providers use contracts called waivers or release agreements to allow people to participate in outdoor activities. These forms are used in the guiding industry, summer camps, outdoor training and educational programs, college outdoor programs, fundraising events for charities, recreation-based venues and competitions involving sports to name a few.
If S.105 had passed, a perfectly legal contract or waiver might be considered unconscionable and thus unenforceable based on the way that one party obtained the other’s signature.
The Vermont Supreme Court has applied a common-sense test in determining whether waiver clauses are enforceable. Contracts and waivers are already subject to contract law judgments and S.105 would have added a new level of scrutiny, making Vermont businesses more vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits.
If Vermont wants to pass legislation that is first in the nation, let us be first in protecting small businesses, our citizens and their jobs as well as we in the recreation industry try to protect our visitors and customers.
You can thank the governor by going to: governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message.
Graydon B. Stevens
North Ferrisburgh

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