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20130415_ATHLETES_0073.JPGProfessional athletes like Reggie Williams and Lorenzo Neal are accustomed to helping their teams win on the football field. They've been less successful in winning over California lawmakers.

The Assembly overrode opposition from current and former professional athletes Thursday in approving a measure to limit workers compensation claims by out-of-state athletes.

The National Football League Players Association brought Williams, Neal and other athletes to the state Capitol last month in an effort to persuade legislators to kill the legislation.

But Assembly members voted 57-1 for Assembly Bill 1309. Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, called his legislation an attempt "to ensure that California's workers comp system is no unjustly longer exploited by every professional athlete from every state in America."

"If you've at least just dressed out, maybe pitched one inning, maybe you got to play one game, maybe you suited up but never left the bench," Perea said on the Assembly floor. "But that still qualifies you to file for a California workers comp claim, even though the vast majority of your time played could have been in Florida, could have been in Texas or Massachusetts."

Perea said he wasn't trying to deny workers compensation to athletes for whom injuries are an unavoidable occupational hazard. The bill allows athletes to seek California workers compensation if they spent at least 80 percent of their career with a California team.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former Oakland Raider Nick Bell, 44, left, waits April 15 as former Cincinnati Bengals Reggie Williams uses crutches as he walks to the podium to talk about his opposition to Assembly Bill 1309. Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee.



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