Last week we ran a piece by youth hockey coach Eric Rigsby about pending legislation in Maryland that would ban contact for certain age levels. In his column, Rigsby argued that the well-meaning legislation may actually put children at greater risk.
Today, St. Mary’s Ryken Head Coach Chris Palombi, a speaker at the hearing, give us an update.
Come to find out, this bill, if passed, could also have huge unintended consequences for not only high school hockey, but any sports with contact (football, lacrosse, etc). A vote was not held yesterday, and the this bill is currently still pending. I do not think it will pass, but what bothers me is that if the Ways and Means Committee approve it to go to the House floor, it is such a small bill it may get packaged with other legislation and easily passed based on a passage of approval from the committee. Am paying attention closely and have been in direct contact with my Delegate, Mark Fisher, and State Senator, Mike Miller (both stated they oppose this legislation). Having Senate President, Mike Miller, on our side is huge for us.
A summary of the hearing follows.
Attendees/Speakers in opposition of the bill:
Around Noon, on Thursday, March 10th, a staff member of the House Bill’s primary sponsor (Delegate Angela Angel) delivered us a document with two amendments to the House Bill 1424. Verbiage was changed and removed “Noncontact League” to “Noncontact Division,” striked “noncontact” to “nonbody checking. The second amendment added, just after line 5, after “advertise” insert, “during the registration process, on the official website of the youth ice hockey club and in print,”.
It was discussed that verbiage in this bill would mandate all high school ice hockey teams in Maryland to be in compliance with the measures proposed in this bill.
The attendees in opposition of the bill shared dialog and various talking points as to why this proposed bill is bad for ice hockey; such as, but not limiting to: the state mandating programs/teams to create additional teams, the lack of ice availability, USA Hockey’s current non-checking rules and stance, unintended consequences of the bill (affect on other sports), and development issues with players moving into more competitive leagues.
Hearings began around 1:00 p.m. but the House Bill 1424 was not discussed until approximately 6:00 p.m.
Delegate Angela Angel and Mark Turner, coach/dad of Howard Huskies CCHL Midget Gold team and primary constituent in support of the bill, began first in the hearing with the Ways and Means Committee.
Delegate Kathryn Afzali then began questioning Turner:
Delegate Frank Turner then began questioning Turner:
Then John Coleman, Jon Weeton, and Paul Peditto began their statements, limiting to three minutes each:
Delegate James Tarlau, co-sponsor of House Bill 1424, then stated he has fielded many calls from constituents on this matter and has began altering his original stance.
No further statements and questioning occurred, and the hearing for House Bill 1424 was dismissed with no vote held. The status of House Bill 1424 is still pending.
Post-hearing, the opposition leaders were able to meet with Mark Turner and Delegate Angel. I asked Mark Turner if he presented his issues and proposal to promote a non-checking league to the CCHL league, which he coaches and his son plays. Turner replied ‘No’. Whereas all members of the opposition offered assistance in at least promoting it and seeing what support would be received from players wishing to field a non-checking league.
You can watch video of the hearing here. It begins at the 4:15:30 mark.
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