It always has been rare to find anything political that everybody should be able to get behind. It might be near impossible these days.
Even decidedly good ideas get complicated when you start talking about making them the law of the land.
That’s not just a result of sharply opposed ideologies or deeply held biases. Frequently, it’s the cost associated with some clearly good ideas, and who would have to cover the cost, that keeps people off the bandwagon.
The fairly recent state law mandating that when Texas public school districts buy new buses, those buses be outfitted with seat belts for student passengers, is a good example. Legislators didn’t provide any new money to assist school districts in complying with the law.
Instead, lawmakers allowed school district administrators to opt out if they couldn’t afford to buy buses with seat belts.
So, the law wasn’t really a law worth supporting. It was an official suggestion at best, and, at worst political theater meant to provide the appearance of having done something worthy without having to invest much in the effort.
It was nothing particularly nefarious, but also nothing to stand up and cheer about.
All of that is what makes House Bill 684, commonly called “Sam’s Bill,” remarkable and worthy of universal support.
The bill is named after Samantha “Sam” Watkins, an 18-year-old Kilgore high school student who, three months after being diagnosed with epilepsy, suffered a massive seizure and died, according to a group lobbying to pass the bill.
In the weeks leading up to her death, Watkins had exhibited symptoms of the disease at school, but educators were not trained to recognize the medical signs or to administer first aid, according to the Longview News Journal.
That lack of training and general understanding about seizures prompted state Rep. Travis Clardy, a Nacogdoches Republican, to draft legislation requiring educators to watch instructional videos supplied by the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas on how to recognize worsening epilepsy and properly react if a student has a seizure, the News Journal reported.
Under the law, the training would be provided free of charge to Texas public schools courtesy of the Epilepsy Foundation.
“Sam’s Law is simple,” the Epilepsy Foundation argues.
“People who deal with children with epilepsy on a daily basis should be trained to care for them if they have seizures.”
A delegation of Galveston County residents, including Trysten Pearson, a Ball High School student who suffers from epilepsy, and other Ball High students and teachers, plan to visit Austin on Monday to lobby for the bill.
The bill apparently already has some support among local lawmakers. State Rep. Mayes Middleton is a sponsor and state Sen. Larry Taylor plans to take a photograph with the local contingent, according to the organizers.
We should all join them in that effort by letting lawmakers know this simple, low-cost idea that might save a child’s life should become a law.
• Michael A. Smith