AUSTIN – Nearly three years since Cody Stephens died of sudden cardiac arrest the Texas House approved HB 767. Cody wore number 76 for the Cougars, but did not have a heart screen done prior to practicing to play for Tarleton State University.
Chairmen Wayne Smith, Dan Huberty, and Sylvester Turner, enabled passage of HB767 on the third reading last Tuesday, the vote went 60 to 40. The day before it had tentatively passed 86 to 57. It was a bi-partisan effort to pass as some Republicans in the House are against any new regulations.
“This is not about somebody making a decision for the school board,” said Scott Stephens, explaining that the bill is really moving the tests performed on potential athletes into the 21st Century.
“The bill would not go into effect until the next school year, 2016-2017,” Stephens said, “that gives the U.I.L. a year to get ready.”
The bill puts the non-invasive electrocardiogram test of heart electrical activity as part of the regular check-up done on high school kids. The bill now allows parents to opt out of having the test done on their child “for any reason.”
The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee and members of the committee stood and applauded the decision. According to Stephens, “We are heading to the Senate Education Committee now and talking to all 12 members. We have more momentum and groups backing us now.”
According to Republican Dan Huberty on the house floor with the newly designed, tested and implemented EKG test “can be done for $15 per child.”
According to Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Crosby and Baytown, “If we can save one kid’s life, it is worth it.”
Fortunately, sudden cardiac arrest is rare, of those screened by the Cody Stephens Memorial Go Big or Go Home Foundation only 15 were found to have conditions that required further testing and two were told outright not to play school sports.
Representative David Courreges expressed, “Congratulations to Scott and Melody Stephens, Bart Koontz and every parent and family that has had to endure the devastation of loosing s child to a detectible heart defect.”
The senate version was written by “Chuy” Hinojosa District 20.