A measure aimed at limiting workers compensation claims by out-of-state professional athletes breezed through the state Senate Friday on a 34-2 vote.
The measure by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, would dramatically reduce the circumstances under which out-of-state athletes could file workers compensation claims, closing a loophole and cutting costs for professional organizations, supporters say.
"These changes are necessary to ensure that the California workers compensation system is no longer unjustly exploited and burdened by professional athletes from every state in America," said Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who co-authored the measure with Ted Lieu, D-Torrance.
"There is no reason an out-of-state athlete should seek these benefits in California if he never was employed by a California team."
Supporters of the measure say such practices by outside athletes have clogged court dockets and caused employers to absorb escalating costs.
The measure, which must go back to the Assembly for a final vote, requires an athlete to have played for a California-based team for at least two years and to have spent no more than seven seasons with an out-of-state team in order to file for benefits.
Stan Kasten, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said in a statement that the measure would "close a loophole that is disadvantageous to California baseball clubs and unfairly costs all of California's businesses - both small and large, including those with no connection to major league sports - millions of dollars every year."
Earlier this year, The National Football League Players Association brought Reggie Williams, Lorenzo Neal and other athletes to the state Capitol to persuade lawmakers to kill the legislation.
Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, said among the challenges is the state's more "liberal standard" in how it allows people to apply for workers compensation. "This is an effort by the team owners to not pay for those players that they've had for several years."
File: Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, on the floor of the Assembly in 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.