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Youth baseball leagues get no exemption from Erie County concussion training law

Youth baseball coaches in Erie County will not be exempted from mandatory concussion safety training.

After months of discussion, compromise and redrafts, the Erie County Legislature on Thursday passed a law requiring concussion safety training for coaches in local youth sports leagues.

The law, which passed 10-1, includes exceptions for leagues that have already established concussion safety programs.

The law requires leagues to keep track of who receives training “to the best of their ability.”

An effort by two legislators to exempt youth baseball failed.

Legislator Peter Savage, D-Buffalo, argued that baseball was not a contact sport and should not be subject to the concussion law.

Savage, who sponsors and coaches in the Hertel North Park Youth Baseball League, said he’s heard from organizers in the league about the “administrative nightmare” the law would create. Some youth sports organizations must recruit and oversee as many as 90 volunteer coaches, most of whom are parents.

But Legislator Patrick Burke, D-Buffalo, countered that a youth baseball organization in South Buffalo became a huge proponent of the concussion law. He also said it’s wrong to say baseball is a non-contact sport.

“It is a contact sport,” he said, “but not a collision sport.”

If baseball is given an exemption, other sports would start asking to be excluded, too, he warned.

“Other people could make arguments for other sports,” he said. “I think that’s a mistake.”

Concussion safety training will be offered for free by the county or a partnering organization, and can also be done online through a brief program offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leagues that do not require concussion safety training of their coaches may be subject to a $100 fine, or $200 fine for repeated violations.

The Legislature also:

• Unanimously supported efforts by many 911 call takers to be allowed to vote on a new schedule of three-day, 12-hour shifts to replace their current work schedule, which has them working seven to eight consecutive days.

Legislator Lynn Dixon, of Hamburg, said there’s no reason not to support a schedule change that could boost morale and save the county money at the same time. “I keep asking, ‘Why not?’ ” she said.

“This is absolutely the right thing for us to be doing,” said Legislator Edward Rath III, R-Amherst. “We need to bring this operation into the 21st century.”

• Unanimously called on the New York State attorney general to investigate alleged price gouging by the Mylan pharmaceutical company over its “astronomical” markup of the life-saving EpiPen epinephrine injector.


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