COLUMBUS – The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 44, sponsored by State Representatives Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) and Joe Miller (D-Amherst) to stiffen penalties for assault when the victim is a sports official in the course of their official duties. The sponsors note a recent uptick in assaults on sports officials and a decline in available referees, hoping that this additional measure will create a safer environment for all involved.
“Increasingly in recent years, a disturbing trend has emerged on our fields of competition,” Roemer said. “Too often, heated arguments turn physical, people get hurt, and the spirit of fair play suffers across all of our sports. As more and more sports officials step away from the profession because of unruly spectators and players, it is imperative that we act to protect those who work so hard to preserve fairness.”
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.
“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 affording them these much-needed protections.”
Representative Roemer was joined by Representative Joe Miller (D-Amherst) as a joint sponsor of the bill, which overwhelmingly passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a vote of 80-9. It will now advance to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.