Sunday, January 17, 2010

While the Crowd Cheers; Hayashi Fumbles Legislation

"Just stop it! Just stop it!" State Treasurer Bill Lockyer famously said to California legislators last year as he declared most of the bills being heard in Sacramento a waste of time and energy.

When The Citizen asked Lockyer in San Lorenzo whether any of that frivolous legislation came from Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, he said, "I don't know," but the two-term lawmaker up for re-election this year has presented a recent string of bills which do more to garner headlines than make a substantive difference.

Hayashi's latest is a pair of bills aimed at training high school coaches to recognize signs of sports-related injuries, such as concussions. The bill is grounded in a burgeoning health issue brought forth by NFL players who have suffered diabilitating cognitive difficulties since leaving the game. Few can disagree with finding a remedy and that is what Hayashi is exploiting. Hayashi too often aims to play rah-rah behind newsworthy issues like this one, the construction of green buildings, and car repair insurance reforms, but then goes on to offer legislation which adds little to current laws, while providing developers and insurance companies with a sweet deal.

In 2003, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was for the children, which is a pretty safe political position. Who exactly is against the children? Hayashi too is noted for using this ploy. She co-wrote an opinion piece for the San Jose Mercury about concussions risks and other injuries young athletes suffer, but said very little about her bills pending in the assembly.

AB 533, which stalled in committee last year, added very little to existing law which says all high school coaches must undergo a two-day training course in first aid and CPR. AB 1647, unveiled this week, is similar to last year's bill, but also adds very little to existing law. The bills, for instance, do nothing to prevent concussions from occurring, but just reduces, if possible, the chances of a second or third incident.

If you do not take steps to stop prevent concussion on the high school playing field by way of improved equipment, then the only choice must be to take steps to change the culture of sports in America. Good luck with that, though, as millions of football fans sat down this weekend to four playoff games with gambling in the millions of dollars riding on players putting their well-being on the line with every crushing tackle.

Hayashi mentions as much in her opinion piece saying, "Our kids believe that they need to be tough and play through the pain when injuries occur, so they're unlikely to tell anyone when they think they have a concussion. We need to help the adults around them become more aware of the problem, and we can do that best by training our coaches." That is unless you believe parents and coaches are the problem in the first place. It's quite difficult for a coach to rest his 17-year-old lefty flamethrower when he's just rendered the competition useless. It's the coach's desire to win resting on those shoulders, along with mom and dad's parental pride.

During Hayashi's past legislative session, it was a bill which would increase the ability of communities to construct green buildings. She painted herself as the defender of the latest chic legislative problem to be solved by politicos--the environment. Like her bill for training about concussion, it is hard to argue against green builidng technologies, but a look at the actuall bill showed something different. While it allowed communities greater use in allowing developers to build green, the bill was clearly composed to aid all types of construction, including, but not limited to green techniques.

Hayashi's car repair bill, which the governor signed into law late last year, may not have been on the radar of popular culture like the previous mentioned bills, but she did trumpet the notion of insurance companies giving customers more information as an undeniable virtue. It's hard to argue against that, except what the bill really did was to return the power of the captive consumer to garages who had a stake in keeping lucrative contracts with insurance companies. In return, the big insurance players also funneled fundraising dollars to Hayashi's campaign.

Protecting the health of young athletes is something we need to examine, along with our society's warrior mentality towards winning at any cost. By the same token, it is not an issue a politician should use for brownie points with a bill clearly adding very few improvements to existing law.

Hayashi comes from the health care sector, instead of wasting legislative and staff time on toothless legislation, she should be taking a far more proactive role in saving San Leandro Hospital. The last thing she said about the facility over six months ago, was that it was her "number one priority." Instead, It looks like she's relegated it, and herself, to benchwarmer.

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Again, no other news source is reporting the depth of this bill. Leave it to the Citizen to be the one that asks the question "what are the specifics?" This is why I will site your website more than any other during my run to replace Mrs. Hayashi. Thanks for reporting facts as oppose to well tailored opionion/press releases.

I believe Hayashi played Division I college football so she cares about the issue. Also I once heard that 50 percent of running backs from high school on up has knee problems in later life ,which might be an even bigger problem. The helmet training is a good thing because if caoaches are educated better ,they won't be able to cry ignorance when a player gets a serious concussion. They have had a serious effect on my personal ability to think straight.


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