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JD_ASSEM_HUFF.JPGA state Senate bill to let school employees administer an emergency drug to epileptic children was shelved today, prompting complaints from its author that unions blocked it.

Senate Bill 1051 would have authorized non-nursing school staff to volunteer to be trained to give children, via the rectum, doses of the drug Diastat if the children were having a seizure. The proposal will not move to the Senate floor because it did not go to a vote today before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, the bill's author, said in a statement: "It is alarming that Democrats won't permit volunteer, trained adults to help a child suffering from a seizure."

He accused legislators of caving to pressure by unions representing teachers and school nurses who he said wanted to turn the proposal into a "jobs bill."

The bill had Democratic supporters, however, in two Senate committees that approved the measure before it was moved to the Appropriations Committee.

Among groups opposing the bill were the state PTA, the California Teachers Association and the California Nurses Association, whose members have seen their ranks in schools decrease with budget cuts.

The CTA and other opponents said that allowing non-nursing staff to administer the drug was hazardous to children and could put school staff in legal jeopardy if something went wrong during an administration of the drug.

Groups representing people with epilepsy and parents with children with epilepsy supported the bill, along with Disability Rights California.

Alicia Trost, spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, said in a statement: "Sen. Steinberg isn't convinced that it is wise to press cafeteria workers and bus drivers to provide invasive medical treatment to our kids."

She said Senate Bill 1200 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is considered an alternative to Huff's bill. Leno's bill was approved by the Appropriations Committee.

Leno's bill calls for state agencies regulating insurance companies to devise plans for how children can receive emergency care from licensed professionals while they are in school.

PHOTO CREDIT: Then-Assemblyman Bob Huff, Feb. 28, 2005. Sacramento Bee file photo / John Decker.

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