SUMMIT COUNTY – State Representative Bill Roemer (R – Richfield) yesterday presented sponsor testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee on legislation to protect sports officials from assault.
House Bill 44 passed out of the Ohio House last General Assembly with bipartisan support as HB 208 but failed to make it through the full legislative process. Earlier this year, the legislation was reintroduced and passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 80-9.
“Sports officials deserve to be safe from undue harm on the job – not just for their safety, but for the integrity of sports in general,” said Roemer. “These are good, upstanding members of our communities whose only aim is to uphold fair play. I applaud my fellow House members for voting to afford them these much-needed protections and look forward to guiding the bill through the Senate committee process.”
In recent years, officials across Ohio have grown increasingly concerned for their safety. According to proponents of the bill, approximately 70 percent of officials quit in the first three years, due in large part to spectator abuse. Additionally, there have been multiple cases of physical harm to sports officials – a trend this legislation aims to reverse.
The bill would establish penalties for assaulting a sports official while performing their duties, including a $1,500 fine and 40 hours of community service. For any subsequent offenses of the same kind, the assailant could be charged with a fifth-degree felony, which could result in prison time.
The bill now awaits further consideration from the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee.