SACRAMENTO — California's controversial Table Saw Safety Act, which breezed through the Assembly in a 64-4 vote, is dead - for now at least - after the Senate failed to bring the bill up for a vote.
After scoring the Assembly's lopsided vote in May, the bill was sent to the Senate via a 3-2 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Not only did the bill never get called for a vote, it was never brought up for debate, instead languishing for more than three weeks until the Senate's legislative session came to an end the final week of August. according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Table Saw Safety Act, AB 2218, sponsored by Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), would have required "all new table saws manufactured for sale in California after January 1, 2015, to be equipped with a safety device that substantially mitigates injury when human skin comes close to, or in contact with the blade."
While the Table Saw Safety Act's introduction summary notes, "The bill does not mandate a specific technology," the Power Tool Institute (PTI) and other opponents voiced concern that passing it would provide an unfair competitive advantage to the makers of the SawStop table saw safety system.
PTI, whose members include Skil, Ryobi and Makita, was joined in its opposition by Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, California Chamber of Commerce, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, California Business Properties Association and the California Retailers Association among others. Consumer groups, including the National Consumer League and unions, supported the bill.
Gass told the Times that he was more concerned about preventing table saw-related accidents than in profiting from a table saw safety mandate. "I think there's still obviously a significant need for a change in the status quo. Table saws are maiming people every day," Gass said.
The most recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicated that 66,900 people receive emergency room treatment each year for table saw and bench-top related injuries at a cost of $2.3 billion. The annual injury total includes about 3,500 amputations.
The CPSC is continuing to plod along its course to create a national table saw safety standard. Like California's proposed bill, it would likely mandate flesh-sensing brake technology that is the hallmark of SawStop.Gass holds about 90 patents relating to his invention.
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