NFLPA opposing state bill that would limit worker’s compensation for athletes

FILE - In this May 24, 2012, file photo, NFL players union chief DeMaurice Smith speaks during a news conference outside their headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) ORG XMIT: NY168 Show caption
FILE - In this May 24, 2012, file photo, NFL players union chief DeMaurice Smith speaks during a news conference outside their headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) ORG XMIT: NY168

Union accuses Saints lobbyists of pushing for legislation unfavorable to pro athletes

DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL players union, reportedly came out against a bill concerning worker’s compensation benefits for professional athletes that Louisiana’s House of Representatives passed on Wednesday.

The bill must clear at least two more votes — a state Senate committee and then the full body — before it hits Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk for either his signed approval or veto. The governor can also allow bills on his desk to go into effectwithout signing them.

After several amendments on the floor, the measure in question, House Bill 1069, mandates that for any professional athlete employed by a written contract for hire “that provides for variable wages dependent on the employee’s activity, job description, job status, any temporal consideration, or any other condition based on a variable wage rate, then the employee’s average weekly wage shall be calculated as the employee’s actual earnings at the time of his injury.”

That language would not calculate worker’s compensation from the amount that could have been earned if not for an injury.

CBS Sports on Wednesday reported that Smith vowed his group will combat the bill. According to CBS Sports, Smith alleged that two lobbyists for the Saints pushed for the passage of the bill.

New Orleans’ NFL franchise — which listed nine players on its season-ending injured reserve before the final game of its 2013 season — declined a request for comment on the bill from The Advocate. CBS Sports did not identify the supposed lobbyists.

Records show House Bill 1069 was authored by Reps. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, and Cameron Henry, R-Metairie.

Broadwater proposed the floor amendments, and the bill passed 57-31, or by four votes.

Most of the House’s delegations from the parishes of Orleans and Jefferson cast votes in favor of the bill. Those lawmakers were Reps. Neil Abramson, Jeff Arnold, Austin Badon, Wesley Bishop, Ray Garofalo Jr., Henry, Nick Lorusso, Joe Lopinto, Helena Moreno, Michael Talbot and Ebony Woodruff.

Reps. Patrick Connick and Tom Willmott voted against it. Reps. Bryan Adams, Walt Leger, Chris Leopold and Julie Stokes were absent.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome — where the Saints play their home games — is in Orleans Parish. The team’s administrative headquarters and training facilities are in Jefferson Parish.