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Rep. Miller's bipartisan bill to protect sports officials passes House

November 18, 2020
Joseph A. Miller, III News

COLUMBUS— Today, State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) announced the passage of House Bill (HB) 208, his bill with joint sponsor Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) to increase penalties for the assault of a sports official.

“This legislation is vitally important to protect sports officials in Ohio and to ensure that we are able to recruit and retain the next generation of umpires and referees,” said Rep. Miller. “As a referee myself for over 20 years, I understand the tremendous benefits that sports provide to athletes, parents and their communities. That is why it is imperative for us to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for everyone involved. Ohio needs to do more to protect our officials, and avoid this looming crisis before referee shortages become a major obstacle in the future. This bill sends an unmistakable message that we will not tolerate assault on sports officials.” 

HB 208 would bring the penalty for assaulting a sports official in line with the same protections offered to teachers and administrators. The Ohio High School Athletics Association has decried the “alarming shortage” of high school officials, primarily because four out of five quit within two years. Of those that quit, 75 percent cited “adult behavior” as their primary motivation for leaving.

Currently, there are 21 states who have enacted similar legislation. The bill was passed out of the House and now heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.