SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Senate Wednesday started moving forward on an issue sought for years by former Rolling Meadows High School football player Rob Komosa, who died last weekend.
A Senate panel Wednesday approved legislation that would require public and private schools to carry catastrophic accident insurance to cover their student athletes.
Komosa was paralyzed after a 1999 football accident but had to sue Northwest Suburban High School District 214 to cover his expenses because the district didn't have insurance. The two sides eventually settled for $12.5 million.
At the committee hearing, the mother of another man whose high school football injuries left him paralyzed told lawmakers that the difficulties of caring for her son were only complicated by the financial burden.
"I took care of my son until the day of his demise," Annette Clark said. Rocky Clark, of Robbins, died last year at age 27.
The Gridiron Alliance, an organization started by Deacon Don Grossnickel of Arlington Heights in the aftermath of Komosa's life-changing accident at Rolling Meadows High School, has asked the District 214 board to include a catastrophic injury insurance policy in the next budget, but he was turned down.
He and other members of the Gridiron Alliance plan to protest that decision before tonight's school board meeting.
"(The decision) should not be misconstrued as a lack of caring for the well-being of our student athletes. We all care about the safety of our students," said Superintendent David Schuler in an email exchange with Grossnickle.
The legislation in Springfield was approved unanimously and now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.
Republicans raised concerns about the cost to school districts that are already being shorted by the state as well as how the requirement would mesh with continued implementation of President Barack Obama's health care reforms.
"School districts, we're always hearing, are so strapped for money," said state Sen. Darin LaHood, a Dunlap Republican.
The legislation is sponsored by state Sen. Napoleon Harris, a Chicago Democrat and former NFL linebacker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings.