State health and safety regulations for student-athletes in middle-school or high-school would be made consistent throughout the state under a measure approved by the Senate today. The Senate addressed this issue last session following the deaths of four student-athletes in the span of about a week. That bill passed unanimously, but was held up in the House Calendar Committee. Today, Senator Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin passed Senate Bill 474, essentially the same as last session's bill, which would require schools to adopt uniform health and emergency policies in respect to their student-athletes.
SB 474 would require students and personnel who participate in school athletics to take a safety training course to learn how to respond in the event of a health-related emergency. It would also require the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to recommend that all students receive a screening for congenital heart defects before they participate in athletic events. Schools that do not follow the state training regulations would not be allowed to participate in athletic events until they become compliant.
"This is a way to save lives," said Barrientos. "To sum up, what we have here are provisions to get the people directly involved in the events, the athletes and their coaches, to make them more aware of the dangers of repeated impact injuries, like concussions. We also want to make sure that contact with emergency services personnel is quick, and that the right information is conveyed."
The original draft of the bill would have required that an automated external defibrillator be present at all athletic events, but that was deemed to be cost-prohibitive. Barrientos amended the bill on the floor to direct the UIL to conduct a study to find ways to bring that cost down, through federal grants or bulk purchases.
The Senate also tentatively passed a bill today that would bring the state in line with federal regulations governing compensation that must be paid to someone who is wrongfully imprisoned. SB 440, by Senator Rodney Ellis, would double the compensation due to someone wrongfully imprisoned to $50,000 per year. It would also raise the level of compensation for someone wrongfully imprisoned on death row to $100,000 per year. These new levels are on par with what is required by the federal government following passage of the Justice for All Act.