The California Legislature approved a measure on Wednesday that would allow college athletes to profit from endorsements and their celebrity status.
The proposal contradicts the NCAA’s policies, which prohibit student athletes from making money. The NCAA tried to kill the proposal, and later urged the Legislature to delay its vote. But lawmakers showed overwhelming support: The Assembly and Senate approved the measure this week without any no votes, although several lawmakers abstained.
The bill “brings an end to the exploitation of student athletes by the multibillion-dollar college sports industry, which generates wealth for all involved except the students,” Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who authored the bill, wrote in a statement.
Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a former professor at San Diego State University, says the system is long overdue for change.
“I have seen student athletes in poverty, barely making it, not being able to work because of the heavy [athletics] schedule they engage in,” she said at a hearing this week.
Shortly after the bill passed, the NCAA called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto it.
“Right now, nearly half a million student-athletes in all 50 states compete under the same rules,” the association wrote in a statement. “This bill would remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports.”
The NCAA also warned the proposal could prevent California colleges from participating in league competitions in the future.
Some professional athletes have thrown their support behind the bill, including basketball stars LeBron James and Draymond Green.
Here are a few other bills approved by the Legislature on Wednesday:
One of the most hotly debated proposals this year, AB 5 would limit when businesses can hire workers as contractors. It’s now headed to the governor. A number of professions — like hair stylists, attorneys and dentists — scored exemptions. Gig companies sought a carveout until the eleventh hour, but couldn’t secure a deal.
Earlier this year, Newsom called on lawmakers to send him legislation to address the state’s housing crisis. AB 1482 would limit rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation over the next decade.
Last week, Newsom signed a bill making California the first state to ban fur trapping. Another measure to ban the manufacturing of fur products, AB 44, is headed to his desk. It excludes certain items, like leather, and doesn’t apply to taxidermists.
Law enforcement sees facial recognition technology as a potentially valuable tool in fighting crime, but civil rights advocates say it could be abused. Earlier Wednesday, the Senate passed AB 1215, which pumps the brakes on using facial recognition software with police body cameras. The measure would sunset after three years.
A proposal headed to Newsom’s desk would prohibit the state from entering into new contracts with private, for-profit prisons. The state could renew some contracts, but under AB 32, no prisoners could be held in private facilities by 2028.
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