- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sledding may be allowed in more public parks next winter under a new Iowa law that protects cities from liability if people are injured.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law Wednesday. It won unanimous approval in the state Legislature.

The old rules protected cities from liability when people were injured skateboarding or biking on city property but did not include a sledding protection. The new law changes the language to provide more protection from injuries sustained during “recreational activities,” which means sledding would be covered.

People could still sue over injuries if they had clear evidence of negligence.

Branstad said he hopes the legislation will promote more outdoor activity.

“We want to encourage young people to be outside and get exercise,” he said. “I think there will be more sledding and more recreational opportunities for people.”

Some Iowa cities have limited sledding in public parks over concern about lawsuits if people get hurt. Cases in recent years include a $2 million judgment against Omaha, Nebraska, after a 5-year-old girl was paralyzed when she hit a tree and a $2.75 million payment when a man in Sioux City, Iowa, slid into a sign and injured his spinal cord.

The city of Dubuque limited the number of sledding properties over the winter over fear of lawsuits. Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said she expected to see more sledding opportunities next winter.

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