Bill to require athletic trainers at 'collision sports' knocked out in Iowa House

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DES MOINES — A bill to require Iowa high schools to have a health care professional present at “collision” sporting events — to identify concussions to student-athletes — took a knockdown punch from a House subcommittee Tuesday, got up, but was KO’d later in the day by the Education Committee.

There’s support for the concept of Senate File 2225, floor manager Rep. Quentin Stanerson, R-Center Point, said, but lawmakers had too many questions to move the bill forward.

He declared the bill dead after a House subcommittee heard from the Iowa Association of School Boards that it would be a “huge unfunded mandate” for local schools. The Legislative Services Agency estimated it could cost local school districts $148,000 to more than $500,000 a year.

However, Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, who ran the bill in the Senate where it was approved 35-15, wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

Worst-case scenario, Bowman told Stanerson, schools will get an increase in state aid of at least 2 percent, or $143 million next year. That would allow them to cover the costs of having a qualified health care professional on the sidelines.

So Stanerson went another round with the bill when the full Education Committee met Tuesday afternoon. However, after Democrats and Republicans met separately to discuss the bill, it was not debated.

In addition to cost, there were questions about whether the bill should apply to “collision sports” — football, wrestling and soccer, which are played by about 37,000 Iowa students — or to all “contact sports.”

“Passing in the hallway is a contact sport in some schools,” Emily Piper of the school board association said.

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