Bouncy Castles & Hypocrisy in the Texas Legislature, Episode #Bajillion-and-7

RH Reality Check published a report that demonstrates:

  • Abortion is not only regulated, or well-regulated, but even highly regulated.
  • Those regulations are not making what is already an astonishingly safe procedure any safer.

I have heard member after member of the regressive majority in the Texas legislature assure us that they only pursue anti-abortion laws to keep women safe.

I’m tired of pointing out the hypocrisy of these assurances. I suspect, however, that they are counting on me being tired, and you being tired, and all of us just giving up.

So, round whatever-and-67 in pointing out that mewling about the health of Texas women is just cover for restricting our rights and controlling our bodies, the headline behind the pay wall in today’s Houston Chronicle:

Bounce-house rentals not all fun and games • Of 170 rental operators in area, only 30 inspected and licensed

By Yang Wang
August 22, 2013

As children’s birthday parties ballooned into themed events and pricey productions in recent years, bounce houses became must-have entertainment for some parents.

But as the bounce house rental business has grown locally, so have the number of unlicensed operators.

At least 170 of these businesses advertise their services in the Houston region, but only 30 are actually licensed with safety inspections, based on a Houston Chronicle analysis of state records.

By state law, inflatable operators first need to file an insurance policy with the Texas Department of Insurance and then pass a safety inspection. If approved, they receive an amusement ride compliance sticker for each inflatable they maintain.

The number of inflatable bouncer- related injuries rose 1,500 percent between 1995 and 2010, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics in November. More than 11,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2010.

A 6-year-old El Paso girl broke her leg jumping with other children in 2009 in a bounce house; a 7-year-old boy from Florida died from skull fractures after falling out of a bounce house when jumping with a teenager, according to consumer reports sent to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A bounce house exploded in July in a park in Idaho, hurting six children.

Some have no address

Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins said it’s hard to track down rogue bounce house businesses since they pop up often without storefronts, some not even an address.

“It’s a challenge to keep up with the rental companies,” Hagins said. “We are definitely concerned.”

Well, you say, maybe the legislature doesn’t know.

The Texas Department of Insurance expressed concern to the Legislature in its biennial report in 2012, seeking more power to enforce inflatables.

The agency can’t close down any noncompliant businesses, but refers them to the Texas Attorney General’s office for court actions.

Oh, whew, that’s a relief, you say. Attorney General Greg Abbott is on the case.

In the past two years, the agency referred about 230 businesses in Texas to the attorney general. Tom Kelley, spokesman for Attorney General Greg Abbott, said the office has taken no action against any of those businesses and would not say what it plans to do.

It’s up to local law enforcement to charge operators found to be running a noncompliant amusement ride, a Class B misdemeanor, but Hagins said doing so remains a low priority.

Meanwhile, injuries related to bounce houses continue to soar nationwide.

Gary Smith, a pediatrician and researcher, said a bounce-house-related injury happens every 45 minutes across the country.

He said he treated a number of injured children over the years and started to wonder if there was a trend. “It allows the policy makers to think if anything needs to be done to minimize the risks,” said Smith, the president of Child Injury Prevention Alliance, a research institute based in Ohio.

Statistics on the number of injuries in Harris County are not readily available, but Guinness Collins of Bouncin’ Bears of Texas, a licensed business in Spring, said she had five accidents during her three-year operation.

One included a 3-year-old whose arm was broken when his grandfather went down a slide with him and the two of them rolled.

None of the incidents triggered Collins’ insurance because she was not at fault, but she considers her insurance and permits as protection for her as well as for her young clients.

“It’s the kiddos we need to think about,” Collins said. “Our clients are kids, and it’s up to us adults to make them safe.”

I’m sure if your kids are injured in an un-inspected, unlicensed, uninsured bouncy castle that you’ll be able to pursue adequate remedies in the state court. Errr, well, possibly.

So, there you have it. Draw your own conclusions.

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3 Responses to Bouncy Castles & Hypocrisy in the Texas Legislature, Episode #Bajillion-and-7

  1. Pingback: Texpatriate | TPA Roundup (August 26, 2013)

  2. Pingback: Texas blog roundup for the week of August 26 – Off the Kuff

  3. Pingback: Texoblogosphere: Week of August 26th | Texas Leftist

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