Senator Hurtado’s Bill Bringing Equity to High School Football Championship Games Awaits Governor’s Signature

SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) released the following statement on Senate Bill 486, known as the Equity for Rural Schools Act after its passage through the California legislature; the bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

“One of the core values of the NFL is ‘Responsibility to Team’, a value that the California Interscholastic Federation does not align with. They have demonstrated this by treating some teams with more importance than others. This type of behavior does not show respect or love for the game, the teams or the players. Either CIF has a bad business model, or they have bad business practices. Either way, California football teams and players have me on their side. I hope the Governor listens to the high school football players that worked so hard to push this bill to his desk,” said Senator Melissa Hurtado.

“I would like to thank Senator Hurtado for working so close with me and my teammates through this whole process,” said Ezekiel Osborne. “The changes she has helped make will not only benefit my team but every small high school team across California in achieving fairness in the sport we all put so much hard work into. I know that every small town and small high school in California is thankful for all of Senator Hurtado’s hard work.”

“My team and I greatly appreciate Senator Hurtado and her staff for the actions they took and the crucial role they played in fighting the CIF,” said Mariyon Sloan. “The changes that they made are not only going to help our team, but also little towns like us that have experienced the same thing before. It is also important to the future generations to come so they never have to go through anything like this. I am just overall grateful for Senator Hurtado and her team because without them none of this would have been possible. We all hope Governor Newsom signs this bill.”

“As a coach and an educator, you always hope that your students/athletes will have the courage to stand up for what’s right when the moment presents itself,” said Coach Jerald Pierucci. “Ezekiel and Mariyon have represented our football program, High School, School district and all Student/Athletes who are affected by the CIF’s current state playoff format with poise and maturity above their years. I stand with them, Senator Hurtado, and the rest of the small schools in the state of California, to urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill, and give all athletes the experience they deserve when they play for a state championship.”

During emotional testimony as Senate Bill 486 moved through the legislative process, student athletes Mariyon Sloan and Ezekiel Osborne recounted their personal heartbreak competing at such a high level of athletics, while forced to contend with unequal playing field conditions during a pivotal moment in their burgeoning athletic careers. Footage of the students giving testimony is viewable on the California State Assembly’s website at

Op-Ed expanding on the students’ experiences, and the need for the bill: Valley lawmaker proposes law to give high school teams top venues for big games, Fresno Bee, July 07. 2023

Senator Melissa Hurtado currently represents the 16th Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern Counties. Hurtado is Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and a member of the Environmental Quality, Health, Human Services, and Natural Resources and Water Committees, and Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies. Website of Senator Melissa Hurtado