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Cody Bill changed to “opt in,” likely to sail through House

CROSBY – House Bill 76 has been dubbed by Dan Huberty, “expected to be voted favorably out of the Education Committee this week.”

Once in the Senate, although backed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, is another world of politics.

The Cody Stephens bill is now in a form that fits agencies like the U.I.L. and other organizations in that parents and first time athletes will receive a letter informing them that in addition to the doctor listening to the athletes’ heart with a stethoscope a modern E.K.G. machine evaluation can also be obtained for $15 or $20.

The compromise is that it offers parents and students to opt in for the E.K.G. from information provided to them.

Several groups have formed throughout the nation in favor of adding the new technology to read the multitude of problems that can be present in the heart even though the youngster shows no outward signs of having a heart problem.

These groups generally have had loss experiences like Scott Stephens of Crosby. Scott’s son Cody died on May 6, 2012, a few weeks from graduating from Crosby High School. He was excited to be headed to Tarleton State University on a football scholarship, and working to stay in good physical condition to be prepared for college football practices.

At 6’9″ and weighing 289 lbs, he seemed to be in perfect health, with no indication he had a fatal heart problem. On that Sunday afternoon, Cody kicked back in his dad’s recliner, said he was tired and dozed off for a nap. He never woke up but died in his sleep, from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. His family had never heard of SCA and had no idea that young, seemingly healthy children were at risk with relatively few or no warning signs. The Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation was founded in memory of Cody. Before he died, Cody was talking to his father about his goals to play football in a big way in college and beyond. Cody told Scott, “Go big or go home, Dad.”

After Cody died, his family took Cody’s motto and turned it into an effort to screen young hearts to prevent another family from experiencing the same tragedy.

Scott Stephens has been active in raising funds to provide the heart screenings. This heart screen offers teen athletes 11 to 25 years old the opportunity to undergo an electrocardiogram test, which is an in-depth heart test that is able to detect serious problems going on inside a student’s heart.

These are defects that would otherwise go undetected, defects that killed a total of 7,037 young people nationally in 2018 alone, according to the group Parent Heart Watch. Last year Scott headed up Parent Heart Watch, a national group.

The law at this time reads: “To facilitate the administration of electrocardiograms or echocardiograms to students, a school district may: (1) at the district’s expense, partner with a nonprofit entity to provide electrocardiograms or echocardiograms; or (2) elect to pay for the costs of administering electrocardiograms or echocardiograms to students. (d) The University Interscholastic League shall adopt rules as necessary to administer this section. (e) The rules adopted under Subsection must include: (1) criteria under which a school district may demonstrate a hardship that allows the district to delay administering required electrocardiograms or echocardiograms to students under this section; and (2) procedures that provide for granting a waiver from administration of an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram to a student if, for any reason, the parent or person standing in parental relation to the student submits a written request for the waiver.

SECTION 2. This Act applies beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.

SECTION 3. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2019.