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Arkansas Passes Youth-Concussion Law; Two Others Soon to Follow?

Arkansas has become the 44th state to have a youth-concussion law.

The new Arkansas youth-concussion law, signed by Gov. Mike Beebe on Friday, doesn't follow the mold of the National Football League's model legislation, the Lystedt Law, which contains three main components: Parents must sign a concussion-information form before their child can participate in sports; student-athletes suspected of a concussion must be immediately removed from play; and student-athletes removed for a concussion must obtain medical clearance before returning.

Instead, the Arkansas law authorizes the state department of education to use up to $1 million from its General Improvement Fund on a pilot project on concussion management. It says nothing about removal from play, forcing concussed student-athletes to receive medical clearance before returning to play, or requiring the parents or guardians of student-athletes to sign a concussion-information form before their children can participate in interscholastic athletics.

Two other states may be not far behind Arkansas in terms of passing youth-concussion laws.

In Georgia, the state Senate approved its youth-concussion bill by a 49-3 vote on March 26. The state House sent the bill to Gov. Nathan Deal for a signature on April 4, where it currently remains.

Unlike Arkansas' new youth-concussion law, the Georgia legislation contains the three main components of most states' youth-concussion laws. The Georgia bill also goes one step further by extending these requirements to private schools, charter schools, and youth sports outside of school, which only a handful of states' youth-concussion laws currently do.

In Tennessee, the House voted 93-3 in favor of its youth-concussion legislation back on March 21. The Senate speaker signed the bill on March 26, and the House speaker signed it on March 27 before sending it to Gov. Bill Haslam for a signature on April 2.

Like the Georgia bill, Tennessee's youth-concussion legislation contains the three typical provisions of most states' youth-concussion laws. It also requires coaches and school athletic directors to undergo annual concussion training.

If Gov. Deal and Gov. Haslam sign their states' respective youth-concussion bills, Georgia and Tennessee would become the 45th and 46th states to approve such legislation, respectively.

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