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United States Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of East Moline is co-sponsoring a piece of legislation which would exempt minor-league baseball players from federal overtime regulations.

Bustos, a Democrat, and Congressman Brett Guthrie, a Kentucky Republican, introduced legislation last Friday which would amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act to clarify that players in baseball’s minor leagues are not subject to a law designed to protect workers in traditional hourly-rate jobs.

A pending lawsuit in a California federal court asserts that federal overtime laws should apply to minor-league players, something Minor League Baseball officials claim would threaten baseball’s player-development system with unprecedented cost increases which could threaten the existence of the sport in communities throughout the country.

“For over 115 years, Minor League Baseball has been a staple of American communities, large and small, and with the help of Congressman Guthrie, Congresswoman Bustos and other members of Congress, it will remain so for many years to come,’’ Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said in a statement.

Minor-league players receive salaries paid by the organizations they play for, but minor-league officials believe a change in the structure of the development process could leave many cities in jeopardy of losing minor-league teams and the local jobs that accompany the 160 minor-league franchises that exist in the United States.

Quad-Cities River Bandits owner Dave Heller was among minor-league executives who attended a meeting of minor-league officials and team representatives in Washington, D.C., last week.

Heller praised Bustos for her leadership in the matter.

“Baseball has been a big part of Congresswoman Bustos’ life, so she understands the importance – both the economic and emotional impact – of Minor League Baseball to the small- and mid-sized communities that make up America’s heartland,’’ Heller said.

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