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Concussion certification bill passes House

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 10:16 p.m. CDT

More than a year after she started investigating head injuries among high school athletes, State Rep. Carol Sente understands unanswered questions still exist.

So when an array of concerns came up on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon over a bill that would require high school coaches and athletic directors to undergo mandatory online concussion certification training, the Lincolnshire Democrat wasn’t surprised.

By the end of the debate, however, Sente got the result she was looking for. The House passed H.B. 5431 by a vote of 102-11, sending the measure onto the State Senate. Sente said Tuesday night she expects the bill to be introduced in committee meetings in late this month.

She is happy, however, to have the first leg of the journey over with.

“Just passing the House isn’t enough – it has to get over the goal line,” Sente said. “Today was great, but I don’t know what the sentiment will be like in the Senate and so I’m going to stick with this.”

Last year, Sente unsuccessfully pushed to limit football tackling drills to twice a week. She considered H.B. 5431 a good compromise, stressing that the required training course would help educate coaches and athletic administrators. Sente also felt like the bill closed the gap between her and the IHSA, which continues to ponder the best way to deal with head injuries and concussions.

Now, Sente’s task becomes convincing the Senate that the bill is worth passing. Among those voting in the Senate will be former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris, D- Harvey, who Sente considers an ally after the former Northwestern standout opposed her initial efforts to legislate high school sports.

“The work isn’t done as far as getting that communication [about head injuries] out there,” Sente said. “I know some of those questions will come up in the Senate – I do.”

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