Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ) took to the House Floor last night to speak against an excessive Department of Justice regulation that would require every public swimming pool and jacuzzi to provide a permanently fixed lift. To view his full remarks, click here:
"This is one of those moments you have here in Congress where I swear we are almost talking about completely different things than the reality I live in.
"I am blessed to represent Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the resort centers in the country.
"A month ago, I went and visited a resort right down the street from where I grew up. They have seven pools, if you count the jacuzzis. And I am walking through the resort with the manager, who I have known since high school, and he is just looking at me with these huge eyes saying, "have they lost their minds?'
"First point he makes, is that they have had a portable lift for a decade. And no one has ever asked for it.
"Second point he made, and he was emphatic on this, was twenty years ago because of their tort liability they got rid of all the diving boards. And now we're going to demand they build six structures up against a jacuzzi?
"I can't wait to see who is going to be standing there monitoring those beer drinking and not climbing on top and leaping into a jacuzzi and using it as swimming pool diving board. Anyone familiar with the term attractive nuisance? Are you going to step up and say, "We are going to provide you tort liability' when someone jumps off and ends up in horrible shape because twenty years ago we made a point to remove these types of hazards from the sides of pools and jacuzzis?
"But the third thing he was just livid on, was his point saying, "I have seven pools in my resort. We're barely making it today and you are telling me I'm going to grind through my concrete and grind through my pool decking to build six fixed lifts near every pool and jacuzzi when no one has ever asked for the portable one in ten years?'
"What's wonderful about the amendment if you actually read it and move away from some of the rhetoric, is that it makes it very clear, that this is about building permanent structures next to those pools and jacuzzis. If they're going to mandate a portable--with the other caveats, ok, fine. Live with that.
"Let's actually step up and deal with this rationally because I fear the law of unintended consequences is going to be that some of my resorts are going to close down those jucuzzis, close down those pools from access to anyone when there is a pragmatic solution, which is embracing the portable lifts. From every call I have made up and down Scottsdale, and as you know we have resorts everywhere, I have not had a single manager call me back and say, "Yes, we are using our portable one.'"
BACKGROUND: Rep. John Carter (R-TX) had an amendment in H.R. 5326, the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill to block the Department of Justice's enforcement of this regulation.
In January 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division set forth new requirements for all facilities "of public accommodation" that go beyond those contained in a final rule issued in 2010 giving hotels and other residential communities no time to comply with this burdensome rule.
This new guidance requires a permanent lift be installed in every public pool, spa, or jacuzzi.
The number of businesses, recreation centers, and apartment complexes--and not just the large hotels and resorts--across the country that will have to comply is staggering. Not only will each body of water require its own lift, larger pools will require multiple points of entry in the form of a lift and a sloped entry. Perhaps even more staggering is the cost. A pool lift can run $2,500 - $9,700 and the installation of each lift can cost $500 - $3,000.
After pressure from the industry, the DOJ extended the compliance deadline for 60 days. Additionally, DOJ allowed for a 15-day comment period on a possible six-month extension. The DOJ needs to take into account the cost, resulting backlog on pool lift orders, compliance timeline, and the very real possibility that these fixtures will prove to be injurious attractive nuisances to children.