Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Brown signs Perea bill aimed at limiting pro athlete’s reach into worker’s comp

Sacramento Bee Capitol Bureau reporter Jeremy B. White provides this report:

Former Edison High and NFL running back Ickey Woods, center, accompanied by more than a dozen other professional athletes, speaks at an April rally at the state Capitol aimed at criticizing proposed legislation to limit whether players can collect workers compensation benefits in California. (Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Fresno Assembly Member Henry T. Perea’s bill aimed at curtailing professional athletes’ access to worker’s compensation became law this week.

Supporters of Assembly Bill 1309 argued that professional athletes have exploited California’s overly generous worker’s compensation system, seeking disability benefits even when they played for out-of-state teams and rarely took the field in California.

Under the new law, signed Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, former athletes will need to prove they played for California-based teams for either two years or 20% of their career in order to claim worker’s compensation.

“Our workers’ compensation system will no longer be unfairly targeted by out-of-state professional athletes and California businesses will finally be protected from these claims,” Perea said in a statement. “This legislation has come a long way from its introduction and provides a fair, balanced and practical approach which still allows former California athletes to file here.”

An alliance of different California teams backed the bill, from the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angeles Clippers to the San Diego Chargers. Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League also came out in favor.

On the other side of the debate stood unions representing professional athletes, including the National Football League Players Association, the National Basketball Players Association and other major labor organizations. In an unsuccessful campaign to defeat the bill, current and past professional football players gathered at the state Capitol this year.

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