November 29, 2023

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Blunt, Klobuchar Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation

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Last week, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) introduced
bipartisan, bicameral legislation to strengthen pool safety and protect
children from drowning. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety
Reauthorization Act would bolster safety standards for public swimming pools
and spas, and promote awareness to prevent pool-related injuries and deaths.

The bill
updates key provisions from the original law, including expanding eligibility
for the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Swimming Pool Safety Grant Program
to nonprofits and tribes. This grant program provides state and local
governments with funding to help implement enforcement and education programs
that help prevent drownings and drain entrapments in pools and spas. U.S.
Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), John Carter (Texas), Colin
Allred (Texas), and Michael Burgess (Texas) introduced companion legislation in
the House.

“Since the
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act first became law nearly 15 years
ago, it has helped to make pools safer for children and to support drowning
prevention efforts,” said Blunt. “As kids head outside to play during the
summer months, it is an especially important time to raise awareness around
pool safety and continue building on the progress that has been made under this
law, including by targeting resources toward rural areas. I’m proud to join
Senator Klobuchar and Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Colin Allred,
John Carter, and Michael Burgess in introducing this bill and I encourage all
of my colleagues to support this commonsense, life-saving measure.”

“When I
first got to the Senate, a little Minnesota girl named Abbey Taylor was maimed
in a swimming pool by a defective drain and, after sixteen surgeries, died
nearly a year later. Her one wish was that it wouldn’t happen to another
child,” said Klobuchar. “We passed a pool safety bill in 2007 shortly before
Abbey’s death, and by further strengthening our safety standards, this
bipartisan legislation will continue to honor Abbey’s legacy and protect more
children from drowning and pool-related injuries. No family should have to live
in fear that a fun day in the pool can turn into a horrible tragedy.” 

“No work we
do in Congress is more important than keeping our children healthy and safe.
And the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act did that by saving
countless lives over the years. So, it is critical that we reauthorize this
bipartisan, common-sense law, and as we’re doing now with this reauthorization,
expand its life-saving impact,” said Wasserman Schultz. “As we stare in horror
at the recent tragedy in Texas, adding to the layers of protection that keep
innocent children safe is paramount. This law does that by helping decrease
drownings in pools and spas, a concern every parent holds close as we enter the
summer season when water activity picks up. Let’s keep our kids safe with
sensible outreach, education, and precautions.”

The original
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed into law in 2007. The
law mandated that all public pools install safe drain covers preventing suction
entrapment, established a voluntary grant program for states to promote pool
and spa safety, and created a national public education campaign to raise
awareness about drowning prevention. The law also made the safety standards
retroactive to existing pools intended for public use and required single-drain
public pools to install the latest drain safety technology.

The Virginia
Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the
original law, while also incorporating the following new provisions:

  • Establishing a new Director of
    Drowning Prevention at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC);
  • Expanding eligibility for grant
    awardees to include nonprofits and tribal groups;
  • Creating a new grant awareness
    campaign for the CPSC to conduct outreach;
  • Allowing grants to be used for
    swimming lessons; and
  • Adding additional oversight and
    reporting requirements.


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