State Lawmakers Discuss Concussions and Affirmative Action - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

State Lawmakers Discuss Concussions and Affirmative Action

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - State lawmakers in the Senate Education committee talked about two big issues on Wednesday:  Affirmative Action and concussions.  One passed committee.  The other will have to wait another week.

Legislation that would require schools and other organizations conducting youth athletic programs in Tennessee to adopt concussion policies is headed to the floor of the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville was approved 8-0 in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and now goes to the full Senate.

The measure is similar to laws passed in 42 other states and the District of Columbia that include provisions requiring students to be removed from sporting events and evaluated if they show signs of having a concussion.

NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch, Junior,  who oversees law and labor policy for the league, testified before the committee. He said the league supports such legislation and hopes all states will eventually adopt similar measures.

"The NFL follows stringent and strict guidelines to appropriately spot, diagnose, and manage  concussions and other brain injuries," said Birch.   In addition to working for the NFL, you may recognize his name – his father was Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Adolpho A. Birch.

Meantime, A proposal to eliminate affirmative action initiatives from higher education institutions in Tennessee has been delayed another week.

A vote was expected on the measure in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday after being deferred for a week to work out language.

As written, the legislation would prohibit colleges and universities from granting preference "based on race, gender or ethnicity."

The main hangup appears to be what is meant by the term "preference."

Higher education officials, in particular, are concerned the current bill could run afoul of federal law and cost the state funding.

Committee Chairwoman Delores Gresham seemed frustrated with having to delay the legislation again and ordered all parties to work out their differences and be prepared to vote on the legislation at the next committee meeting.

"Now, either we're going to come here prepared or we're not.  Do not come back here unless you're ready to vote on this bill and you have reached an agreement.  This is two weeks now," said Senator Dolores Gresham, a Republican from Somerville.

NewsChannel 5 and The Associated Press Contributed to this report.  Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

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