Washington rep exempts Native Americans from life jacket bill because they’re ‘very used to our cold waters’
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A Washington The state legislator has exempted Native Americans from her life jacket bill, suggesting they are less likely to drown due to ‘eons’ of experience with ‘cold water’ in the State.
Washington State Rep. Cindy Ryu, a Democrat, is the sponsor of HB 1707, a bill that would require people to wear personal flotation devices while on stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and canoes in an effort to prevent drowning deaths.
The legislation, however, includes an exemption for members of federally recognized Native American tribes.
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The exemption appeared during a remote hearing on the bill, where Ryu defended it while suggesting that Native Americans wouldn’t drown due to their “eons” of experience with “cold water”.
“The few exemptions you see, including tribal members — the federally recognized tribal member exemptions — are based on community responses,” Ryu said. “These are situations where they either have extensive training or [are] traditionally very used to our cold waters for eons, basically, or are very guarded.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention DataNative Americans actually have the highest drowning rate among racial demographic groups.
Ryu said she thinks the provision “is a great mechanism to allow tribal members who have much more access to waters and traditional training and activities, unlike many other diverse communities who don’t, like Korean Americans”.
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“The only time I get out on the water these days anyway is when my non-Korean American son-in-law takes me out on the water,” she continued. “And so I thought that was a good way to create very narrow exemptions.”
Ryu’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.