A bill intended to protect referees is halfway through the Kentucky Legislature.
The Kentucky House of Representatives passed House Bill 65 this week. According to Kentucky Public Radio, the bill would make it “illegal to intimidate sports officials with the intention to get them to alter a decision in a sports contest.”
The “Good Sport Bill," which was sponsored by Republican Rep. Randy Bridges after a coach attacked basketball referee Kenny Culp in April 2019, passed the House of Representatives with a 91-4 vote. It will now go to the Kentucky Senate.
“Discussions we’ve had with law enforcement and sports officials have led us to believe that more needed to be done to keep these highly-charged situations from escalating,” Bridges said.
Kentucky’s bill would protect officials from threats to injure them, confine them, damage their property or harm their financial interests. Similar bills have been proposed in several states, as they look to decrease violence and increase the number of officials at the youth and high school levels.
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“The officials numbers are dropping at an all-time rate,” Republican Rep. David Hale said, according to Kentucky Public Radio. “I’m really afraid of what’s going to happen if we don’t put some teeth behind this. If we don’t put some really severe potential penalties behind someone that would do that.”