Gov. Brown vetoes California helmet bill, infuriates proponents

California Governor Jerry Brown was expected to be a rubber stamp for a bill that would have made it illegal for kids to ski and snowboard without helmets. He vetoed it instead. SNEWS finds out why.

Gov. Jerry Brown was expected to be a rubber stamp for the helmet bill that hit his desk on Sept. 6, 2011. He was not. 

Instead of endorsing the bill, which would have made it a crime for kids to ski and snowboard without helmets, he vetoed it. He wrote in his short veto message that, “While I appreciate the value of wearing a ski helmet, I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state. Not every human problem deserves a law. I believe parents have the ability and responsibility to make good choices for their children.”


Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an identical measure a year ago, but vetoed a companion bill that called for ski resorts to develop and publish safety plans. Both bills were sponsored by State Senator Leland Yee, of San Francisco, who had been confident of Brown’s support. 

“Unfortunately, the Governor ignored the pleas of parents who were asking for this law and for a simple tool to help get their kids to wear helmets on the slopes,” Yee said. “California’s ski slopes are perhaps the last area of recreation where we do not have basic safety standards in place for children.”

Yee wasn’t alone in his disappointment.

“The California Psychological Association is very disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed SB 105,” said Dr. Jo Linder Crow, executive director of the California Psychological Association. “The evidence is clear that the use of helmets can greatly reduce the severity of head injuries resulting in a better recovery process. We are very disappointed that the Governor ignored the widespread support for this legislation would have protected children and saved lives.”

Brown also wrote that he did not want to “impose criminal penalties on a child” or their parents for not wearing a helmet.

 --Peter Kray

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