Tag Archives: Advocates

Supreme Court, NCAA decisions embolden advocates for college athlete compensation in California

California’s landmark law allowing college athletes to sign paid endorsement deals started a national movement.

CALIFORNIA, USA — This story was originally published by CalMatters.

Advocates for college athlete compensation in California are on a hot streak. First the state passed a first-in-the-nation law allowing players to sign paid endorsement deals, and 20 states followed its example. Now, with both a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and a National Collegiate Athletic Association rule change challenging the idea that students shouldn’t make money from athletics, legislators are pushing to move up the effective date of the California law to this fall and expand it to cover community college athletes.

“The amateurism ideals have been weakening over time, not only with just player movements, advocate movements, but also because of litigation that’s currently playing out,” said Eddie Comeaux, a professor of higher education at UC Riverside who studies college athletics.

The NCAA has previously barred athletes from earning money for their performance, aside from scholarships. But the Supreme Court’s 9–0 ruling June 21 allows colleges to also cover as much as $ 6,000 per year in education-related expenses for athletes, such as laptops and study abroad programs. While it didn’t directly strike down the NCAA’s amateurism model, a concurring opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh signaled a willingness to do so, spurring hope among advocates that more avenues for player compensation could be on the horizon. 

Then Wednesday, the NCAA announced that it won’t penalize athletes for taking advantage of state laws like California’s that allow them to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness. 

“With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a press release. 

“The Supreme Court’s ruling basically told the NCAA you’ve got to follow the law, you’re not immune to antitrust, you cannot be a monopoly,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, the author of the Fair Pay to Play Act,  which passed the California Legislature in 2019. She’s now pushing a bill that amends the law to take effect Sept. 1, rather than in 2023. It passed the Assembly’s higher education committee this week, and would need to receive a two-thirds vote by the Assembly and be signed by the governor to become law.

State laws giving college athletes the ability to pursue money-making opportunities also went into effect Thursday in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, New Mexico and Mississippi. 

College athlete endorsements on social media could eventually become a $ 2 billion dollar market, said Thilo Kunkel, director of the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University and the founder of an app called Sprter, which helps players build and monetize their personal brands. Kunkel said his research found that the average college athlete with a few thousand followers could expect to make around $ 2,000 a year in additional income from social media endorsements. 

“Most people won’t get rich off of them, but, you know, if you’re making $ 2,000 extra a year, it’s 50 bucks a week, it’s a little bit here, it’s a little bit there,” he said. 

Athletes on the Sprter app can sign endorsement deals, sell social media shoutouts and book in-person experiences such as a training session with fans. It’s just one of a number of ventures already sprouting up as the new NCAA rules take effect this week. Hanna and Haley Cavinder, twin sisters who play for Fresno State’s basketball team, told ESPN they had already signed their first endorsement deal with Boost Mobile on Wednesday.

Unlike the original Fair Play to Pay Act, Skinner’s new bill would afford California’s community college athletes the same freedom to profit from their name, image and likeness as their peers at four-year universities. The bill has the support of the California Community College Chancellor’s office. 

“Students should not have to sit by and watch others profit off of their hard work and labor without being equitably compensated for it, just because they participate in college athletics – and that includes our many community college student-athletes as well,” spokesperson Rafael Chávez said in a statement to CalMatters. 

John Beam, the athletic director and head football coach at Oakland’s Laney College, said the inclusion of the state’s community college athletes would be a huge win. He said that while not all athletes will be able to take advantage of the money-making opportunities, it’s an important first step to restoring a sense of humanity to how college athletes are treated. 

“We have kids that are hungry every day and I can’t bring, you know, Cup of Noodles in to give them,” Beam said. “We’re not talking about a meal plan, we’re talking about survival food. So I’m hoping that it trickles down to allow us to really care for our student athletes like we should.”

Athletes including Elias Escobar, a football player at Laney College, said the ability to make some extra cash could help with basic needs such as rent, food and gas money for his commute to campus. 

Being an athlete, Escobar said, is “like a full-time job and I’m not getting paid for it.” 

“There were times I didn’t even go to class because I didn’t have any gas money to put in my car, or like, I’m going to school and not eating all day,” he said.

California’s two public university systems, the University of California and California State University, said they were monitoring the bill. “UC continues to work with Senator Skinner, and members of the state Legislature, to ensure that the University is prepared for an accelerated implementation date of Sept. 1,” spokesperson Ryan King said in a statement.

Some advocates for college players want to go even further. A bill this year by state Sen. Sydney Kamlager would have required colleges to pay their athletes a royalty for use of their name, image and likeness if the revenue a sports program generates is more than double the amount it awards in athletic scholarships.  The bill, introduced when Kamlager was an Assemblymember, would also have beefed up enforcement of Title IX, the federal law barring sex discrimination in sports and other educational programs, and placed a cap on salaries for college coaches. 

It stalled in the Assembly. But the recent decisions by the Supreme Court and NCAA could pave the way for California to take more aggressive action on athlete compensation going forward, said Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the National College Players Association, which advocates for the rights of college athletes.  

“A 9-0 decision saying that this is an exploitative industry and college athletes deserve more compensation should be a green light for the state of California to once again reshape college sports in a way that’s more equitable for players,” Huma said. 

Reagan is an intern with the CalMatters College Journalism Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across California. This story and other higher education coverage are supported by the College Futures Foundation.

WATCH RELATED: California to let college athletes sign endorsement deals, defying NCAA (Sept. 2019)

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Author: Matthew Reagan
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Why Texas gun advocates say optional license training is still beneficial for carriers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Awaiting the stroke of a pen at the governor’s desk, Texas is on the cusp of authorizing permitless carry come Sept. 1. The constitutional carry bill, House Bill 1927, would rescind Texas residents’ permit requirement, allowing those over the age of 21 to carry a firearm without any license or training.

But even with the permitless carry option available to Texas gun holders, local business owners and state organizations stressed the importance of continued LTC training, especially when it comes to safety and understanding gun laws.

Joel Kuchenski owns LTC Austin in Leander and offers training courses as part of his business model. In light of the impending permitless carry, he said LTC Austin is considering offering dual training programs: one for those foregoing a permit, and another for those looking to obtain a license.

“There’s going to be, probably, some new classes as well for permitless carry, constitutional carry, geared towards people that aren’t going to get their license to carry, but do want to carry a gun with the responsibility to know the law and where they can and can’t legally carry and everything that goes along with that,” Kuchenski said.

Currently, Kuchenski said those with a permit can readily renew it only through the Department of Public Safety with a fee attached. In a call with KXAN Thursday, DPS representatives said the status of a renewal fee for permit holders remains to be seen.

What also is yet to be determined for LTC Austin is whether LTC training enrollment fluctuates come September, he said. However, he expressed his support for constitutional carry and said he is in favor of this legislation and how it will further support Texans’ second amendment rights.

“We want everyone to be able to carry a gun,” Kuchenski said. “The biggest concern is, you know, we want everyone to be able to carry safely. So if you’re carrying safely and responsibly, then that’s great and that’s ultimately what we want everyone to be able to do.”

The biggest appeal for continued permitting is the flexibility it gives licensed gun owners. There are 37 states that offer reciprocity to Texas gun owners, meaning Texans’ gun licenses will be accepted and permitted for carry across state lines.

For those interested in purchasing a hand gun, background checks are waived for licensed carriers. Kuchenski added there are extra protections for those with an LTC permit in situations such as trespassing on private property, as well as can help streamline interactions with law enforcement.

“If you have that license to carry, it’s kind of an immediate way to show that I’m legally carrying that gun,” he said.

Larry Arnold, legislative director for the Texas Handgun Association, said he is largely in support of constitutional carry as a means of making gun ownership more accessible. While he said training is always a good idea, he said license training shouldn’t be a requirement when it comes to Texans carrying a gun.

“The license class is actually concentrated on state law, where you can and can’t carry, what you can and can’t do,” Arnold said, adding: “The training class is still valuable information. Our point, really, is we’d rather not have the training required for getting a license.”

However, some organizations claim the rescinded license requirement to carry a handgun opens Texas to heightened safety concerns, arguing a lack of mandatory training and oversight. Ed Scruggs, board member of the nonprofit Texas Gun Sense, said heightened gun visibility doesn’t necessarily translate to increased safety.

“There are folks that just never got the license. They didn’t want to go through the training or the background check, and now they won’t have to worry about that,” Scruggs said. “So you’re likely to see more guns on the streets or in public spaces.”

Despite the lack of licensure requirements, Scruggs said all prospective gun holders should still undergo safety training, especially new owners. Beyond the public safety and educational aspects, he said training also outlines how to care for firearms and safely store them at home.

For Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works, he said LTC training works as a two-way street: it empowers you with the knowledge of where, when and how to operate a gun safely, as well as helps ensure carriers aren’t ignorant to local gun laws.

“The law is no excuse,” he said. “You have to be responsible for that gun and where that bullet goes. If you pull the gun out and you use it and you’re in the wrong, then guess what? You should have known what the law was.”

Author: Kelsey Thompson
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Florida governor signs Republican-drafted voting bill; Advocates say it harms minority, disabled voters

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping elections bill into law Thursday that he and other Republicans said would place guardrails against fraud, even as they acknowledged there were no serious signs of voting irregularities last November. Democrats and voter rights advocates said the partisan move will make it harder for some voters to cast ballots.The Republican governor signed the freshly passed legislation ahead of his impending announcement that he’ll run for reelection in the nation’s largest battleground state. He staged the signing on a live broadcast of Fox & Friends Thursday morning, flanked by a small group of GOP legislators in Palm Beach County. Other media organizations were shut out of the event.

DeSantis said the new law puts Florida ahead of the curve in preventing any potential fraud.Groups including the NAACP and Common Cause said they would immediately file a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the new law makes it more difficult for people who are Black, Latino or disabled to vote.

“For far too long, Florida’s lawmakers and elected officials have created a vast array of hurdles that have made it more difficult for these and other voters to make their voices heard,” the groups said in their lawsuit, which they planned to file in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, the state capital.

While Georgia has become the current epicenter of the national battle over elections laws, other states – led by Republicans still unsettled by then-President Donald Trump’s loss in November – have moved to rewrite elections laws. The national campaign to do so is motivated by Trump’s unfounded allegations that irregularities in the election process, particularly in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, led to his loss – a baseless claim that inspired the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Georgia law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed.

Some of the changes in Florida’s election rules contain similar provisions. Democrats acknowledge that the Florida law won’t be as draconian as the one recently adopted by its neighbor to the north.The GOP-controlled Florida Legislature passed the law without a single Democratic vote, even as Florida Republicans have hailed their state as a model for conducting elections. This disconnect has confounded Democrats, voter rights groups and statewide elections officials who see no need for the changes.

But Republicans countered that the new law is a preemptive move against those who would undermine the sanctity of the ballot box, even if they could not cite specific instances of widespread fraud. Republicans argue that the new rules do nothing to keep people from voting.

The newly signed law restricts when ballot drop boxes can be used and who can collect ballots – and how many. To protect against so called “ballot harvesting,” an electoral Good Samaritan can only collect and return the ballots of immediate family and no more than two from unrelated people. Under the new rules, drop boxes must be supervised and would only be available when elections offices and early voting sites are open.

It requires that a voter making changes to registration data provide an identifying number, possibly a driver’s license number or a partial Social Security Number.

The governor’s signature extends a no-influence zone to 150 feet (50 meters) around polling places. And elections officials would have to let candidates and other observers witness some key election night moments in the ballot-handling process. Any violations could prompt hefty fines.

DeSantis had pushed Republican lawmakers to deliver the sweeping rewrites of rules on voting by mail and drop boxes, and to impose new layers of ID requirements for routine changes to a voter’s registration record.However, the proposals signed into law did not include some of the more severe provisions initially put forward by some Republicans, including the outright banning of drop boxes and preventing the use of the U.S. Postal Service for returning completed ballots.

Spurred by concerns that the pandemic would keep voters from voting on Election Day last year, the Democratic Party urged people to vote early and through the mail.

The result: Florida Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail for the first time in years as a record 4.9 million Floridians voted by mail. Democrats cast 680,000 more mail ballots than Republicans did.

In the past, an application for a vote-by-mail ballot covered two general election cycles. The new law requires voters who want an absentee ballot to apply for one every cycle. Republicans had initially proposed making this retroactive, which would have immediately erased the Democratic advantage, but they backed off that move in the final version.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Author: AP

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Community advocates speak after mother of man killed in APD shooting views bodycam video

Author: Wes Wilson
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Community advocates speak after mother of man killed in APD

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Body-camera recordings of a deadly Austin police shooting Jan. 5 were released to family members, attorneys and the officers involved Tuesday.

The mother of 27-year-old Alex Gonzales, the man who was shot and killed, was set to speak at a press conference after having seen the footage, but she was too overcome with emotion to do so.

Other family representatives and community advocates spoke about the incident, including Bertha Delgado. She called the length of time it took APD to release the footage “unacceptable.”

“Our community is in danger because we don’t trust APD,” she said. “The community is backing up Ms. Gonzales’ family, and we’re not going to stop fighting for her.”

APD said in a press release Tuesday, while the press conference was happening, they will release the video to the public though its website Wednesday.

Officer shot at Alex Gonzales in traffic before he was later killed

Pictured on right: Alexander “Alex” Gonzales
Pictured on right: Alexander “Alex” Gonzales

Off-duty police officer Gabriel Gutierrez was driving in his personal car and shot at Gonzalez from the moving car after he said Gonzales cut him off in traffic and then pointed a gun at him. After shooting at Gonzales, Officer Gutierrez called for backup. There was no body cam footage of this officer’s actions. Police said they later did find a gun in Gonzales’ car.

Gonzales drove a little farther before stopping on Wickersham Lane in southeast Austin as other on-duty police officers responded.

APD says body cam and dash cam footage shows officers gave Gonzales multiple commands that he did not follow. He got out of his car and went to the back passenger side of his car and reached inside. A responding on-duty police officer, Luis Serrato, then shot Gonzales multiple times, killing him.

A woman was in the passenger seat and was also shot. A baby in the backseat was not hurt.

Gutierrez has been with the Austin Police Department for five years. Serrato has been with APD for two years.

Delay in the release of body cam footage

Austin police were supposed to release the dash cam and body cam footage of the shooting within 60 days, according to city policy, but failed to do so. That would have been March 6. As of April 27, it has been an additional 52 days since the video was supposed to have been released.

Austin police blamed the delay on the weeklong winter storm that hit in mid-February.

There have been multiple videos that were delayed, prompting families of those killed to speak out in March.

A year after Vanessa Guillén’s murder, family and advocates say not enough

Author Reese Oxner
This post originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

El Pasoans held a vigil for Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen who was murdered in the armory room at the army base. July 2, …

El Pasoans held a vigil for Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen who was murdered in the armory room at the army base. July 2, …

Rogelio Guillen, Vanessa Guillen's father, speaks at a press conference regarding legislation that would designate Sept. 30,…

Rogelio Guillen, Vanessa Guillen's father, speaks at a press conference regarding legislation that would designate Sept. 30,…

Advocates back Gov Greg Abbott’s call

After Gov. Greg Abbott[2] gave a fiery press conference outside a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in San Antonio on Wednesday, advocacy groups said they supported his general message.

The Republican governor had called for more oversight and an immediate investigation into reports the state had received of sexual abuse inside the facility holding more than 1,300 children.

But some who have demanded improved conditions in such facilities for years said they couldn’t help but question the governor’s timing and motivations. Abbott largely remained silent despite reports of widespread abuse[3] in migrant shelters during former President Donald Trump’s administration. And while he has pledged to reform a handful of state agencies with long histories of abuse, problems continue to dog the agencies he oversees.

Now that he’s speaking out in the early days of a Democratic presidency, some said they couldn’t help but view his comments through a political lens.

“Gov. Greg Abbott has zero credibility on this or any other issue related to protecting human life,” said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar[4], D-El Paso, at a press conference on Thursday. “We saw Gov. Abbott’s failure to protect his own citizens during the freeze. We saw Gov. Abbott play politics with COVID.”

At the press conference Wednesday evening, Abbott said complaints about sexual assault[5] at the Freeman Expo Center in San Antonio were reported early Wednesday to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The governor said he did not know the identities of those who alleged assault, nor could he provide many details about the accusations. He said he was concerned more than one child may have been assaulted. He also said that the Texas Department of Public Safety will investigate the allegations.

But he was clear about who he felt deserved the blame: the Biden administration.

“In short, this facility is a health and safety nightmare,” Abbott told reporters Wednesday. “The Biden administration is now presiding over the abuse of children.”

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn[6], R-Texas, on Wednesday echoed Abbott’s concern and called on the U.S. Health and Human Services inspector general to investigate.

“Unaccompanied children that arrive at our border have already endured dangerous conditions at home and a treacherous journey to get here,” Cornyn said in a statement. “The fact that any child would experience abuse in the care of the U.S. government is despicable.”

Abbott and many other Texas Republicans have repeatedly criticized the Biden administration as it struggles to address an increase in migrants being apprehended near the U.S.-Mexico border. Almost all single adults are being immediately expelled under a pandemic health order issued by Trump that Biden has kept in place, although the current administration is allowing in unaccompanied minors and some families to await their immigration court hearings in the U.S. But Democrats are also loudly questioning where the compassion was less than two years ago under Trump’s watch, when apprehensions hit near-record figures despite his crackdown on the border.

And while the allegations of abuse Abbott highlighted were disturbing, they were by no means rare. Thousands of accusations[7] of harassment and sexual abuse have been leveled against government-run migrant shelters in recent years. From 2014 to 2018 — a time that included the Obama and Trump administrations — the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of HHS, received more than 4,500 complaints, including instances of inappropriate touching, staff members watching minors bathe and showing children pornography.

After Wednesday’s news conference, Abbott toured the facility. Renae Eze, an Abbott spokesperson, accused the Biden administration of “[rolling] out the red carpet for what turned out to be a dog and pony show.” She said in a statement that staff at the facility provided no information about the allegations of abuse and “abruptly cut off a doctor” who began to provide information about children with COVID-19.

“Because the Biden Administration has failed these children, the state of Texas is taking action,” Eze continued. “Texas Rangers and DPS have begun their investigation into the very serious complaints about the treatment of these unaccompanied minors and will not stop until they’ve uncovered the real truth and these children are safe.”

Rebeca Clay-Flores, a Democratic Bexar County commissioner, said she accompanied Abbott on the tour of the facility. She pushed back on Abbott’s characterization of the shelter and said that the children are happy and the facility is well-staffed. Abbott on Wednesday claimed that children were not being fed, but Clay-Flores said that the federal government has contracted with three catering companies to provide three meals and two snacks a day. She called the announcement of the abuse allegations “really great political timing.”

“Regardless of your political party or your nation of origin, children should not be politicized,” Clay-Flores told The Texas Tribune. “You want to talk about a dog and pony show? Politicizing children is a dog and pony show.”

An HHS spokesperson in a statement declined to comment on specific allegations, but said the Office of Refugee Resettlement “has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior at all [unaccompanied child] care provider facilities and acts quickly to address any alleged violations of policy, including initiating employee disciplinary action, termination, or reporting to appropriate investigative entities, such as law enforcement agencies and relevant licensing bodies.”

The Freeman Expo Center housed 1,370 unaccompanied teens as of Monday, KSAT-TV reported[8]. It has the capacity to hold up to 2,500 children, according to HHS.

Escobar told reporters at a news conference Thursday that “any allegation around children always should be taken seriously and should be thoroughly investigated.” But advocacy groups shared her skepticism about what Abbott was trying to accomplish.

Jonathan Ryan, CEO of RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants, said in a statement that “the only reason why Abbott is now acting like he cares about the children in these facilities is for political reasons.” Still, he doubled down on calls for increased oversight of child detention facilities.

“What the governor wants is for the Biden administration to stop allowing children to seek home and safety in this country,” Ryan said. “That is not the solution to the challenge we have in front of us. We must ensure the children are released as soon as possible and be reunited with their families in the U.S.”

Edna Yang, co-executive director of the nonprofit immigrant legal services provider American Gateways, told the Tribune that all allegations of abuse should be investigated. She declined to speculate on the motivations behind Abbott’s announcement, but said that if the governor and other state leaders are truly concerned about the wellbeing of immigrants, “there are definitely things that our state leaders can do to protect immigrants now who are suffering in our state.”

Yang pointed to a Texas House bill[9] that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses. The bill has not yet received a committee hearing.

“There are lots of things like that that can be done to actually protect immigrants here and ensure that their rights aren’t being violated,” Yang said.

Meanwhile, advocates for children have long called for more actions to prevent the abuse of children in the care of the state. Texas Appleseed and Disability Rights Texas, two justice and legal organizations, in October filed a complaint[10] with the U.S. Department of Justice against the Texas Juvenile Justice Department that alleged “grievous violations of children’s constitutional rights.”

The problems at the agency predate Abbott’s tenure as governor. The agency has undergone a series of major reforms that successfully shrank the number of kids in the state’s lockups and led to the closure of seven facilities. But the complaint alleged widespread sexual assault at the remaining facilities.

“How many years is it going to take until we’re going to realize that we need to throw everything out and start over?” Brett Merfish, director of youth justice at Texas Appleseed, said.

In addition, the embattled Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has struggled to implement a long list of court ordered reforms that stem from a decadelong lawsuit[11] over abuse and neglect in the state’s foster care system. In 2017, Abbott signed a bill to overhaul the foster care system. Still, problems have persisted.

In February, the federal judge overseeing the case again chided[12] state officials for failing to take sufficient corrective action. That same month, Abbott promised to do “exactly”[13] what the judge ordered to fix the situation.

Earlier this year, the state had a backlog of more than 400 investigations into reports of abuse open for longer than 30 days. Only 38 had valid extensions.

“We should all be working together on this, and in that spirit, I’m going to tell you that this is not compliance,” U.S. District Judge Janis Jack said in a February hearing.

Disclosure: Texas Appleseed has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here[14].

References

  1. ^ Sign up for The Brief (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ Greg Abbott (www.texastribune.org)
  3. ^ reports of widespread abuse (www.propublica.org)
  4. ^ Veronica Escobar (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ sexual assault (www.texastribune.org)
  6. ^ John Cornyn (www.texastribune.org)
  7. ^ Thousands of accusations (www.pbs.org)
  8. ^ KSAT-TV reported (www.ksat.com)
  9. ^ a Texas House bill (capitol.texas.gov)
  10. ^ filed a complaint (www.texastribune.org)
  11. ^ decadelong lawsuit (www.texastribune.org)
  12. ^ again chided (www.texastribune.org)
  13. ^ promised to do “exactly” (www.dallasnews.com)
  14. ^ list of them here (www.texastribune.org)

Shawn Mulcahy