SACRAMENTO — An effort by the
The measure cleared the state Senate on Friday on a 34-2 vote. In May, it passed the Assembly, 61-4.
The latest version of the bill is expected to win final passage next week in the Assembly and be on the governor's desk shortly after the scheduled Sept. 13 legislative recess.
Because of its liberally interpreted workplace-injury laws, California has become the de facto forum of last resort for so-called cumulative trauma claims, including head injuries, by retired players. Many of them may have participated in just a handful of games in California over the course of their careers.
The crackdown on a workers' compensation claims by athletes has been the focus of a major lobbying campaign by the National Football League and other pro-sports franchises. Former athletes have filed more than 4,400 claims involving head and brain injuries since 2006.
Claims by athletes represent an estimated potential $1-billion liability for the NFL alone, though they represent only a tiny percentage of all California workers' compensation cases
The bill, AB 1309 by Assemblyman
However, it bans claims from athletes who played for California teams for less than two seasons. It also bans those who played for California teams at least two seasons but spent seven or more seasons with non-California teams.
The bill's lopsided victory in the state Senate provides evidence of the persuasive powers of the sports leagues' successful effort to flood the Capitol with squads of lobbyists.
But Hill's arguments didn't sway his colleague Sen.
The bill, Wright charges, amounts to a financial boon for team owners.
"If there was a risk to California, I would be supportive," he said. "But what we're talking about today is whether we give the owners a pass on the players who played many years for their teams."
Wright was one of just two senators to vote against AB 1309. He was joined by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel).
For his part, the leader of the Senate, President Pro Tem
The bill, if signed into law, would become effective as of Sept. 15.