By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service
HELENA – The Legislature is one vote away from passing a bill that would protect volunteers who help with youth sports from civil damages if an athlete gets hurt.
The bill also expands an existing training program for volunteers to recognize symptoms of concussion on the playing field, which, right now, only applies to volunteers in public schools. This would also require volunteers for youth sports outside of public schools to go through the training.
The Senate passed House BIll 487 earlier this month on a 48-2 vote, but amended it to remove an age restriction for the athletes. The House gave those changes preliminary approval Wednesday on a 92-6 vote.
The bill needs a final vote by the House before going to Gov. Steve Bullock.
“In the days back when I would compete a little bit it was, ‘shake it off, get back in there. How tough are you?’ Sometimes some of these kids need a little bit more diagnosis and this gives them the opportunity,” Salomon said.
Sen. Lea Whitford, D-Cut Bank, supported the bill and said she understands that sometimes things happen when young people are playing sports.
“I believe it’s important to understand what to look for, especially, and then how to treat it,” Whitford said.
Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, agreed with Whitford, and said this is just an evolution of dealing with sports on the field.
“It’s not that we can’t play sports, it’s not that kids can’t play sports, but it’s how you deal with these injuries or these concussions on the field when they happen,” Thomas said. “Not just thinking, well, they will get over these things.”
Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.