2014 Sports Officials Legislative Scorecard
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Has your state passed laws pertaining to assaults on officials, officials’ liability or independent contractor status? Those issues impact sports officials tremendously. And many states have realized the importance of addressing those topics.
Sports officials should be able to perform their duties without threat of personal injury, administrative hearings or litigation because of their game calls. Being a referee or umpire is no easy task. State legislators can show support for the men and women who officiate on the courts and fields by passing laws to protect them.
NASO has been bringing attention to assault, liability and independent contractor issues for years. The map, updated for 2014, displays the states that have passed laws dealing with those issues. There are currently 21 states that have officiating assault laws (including 19 with criminal laws and two with civil statutes), 16 with limited liability legislation and 14 states with independent contractor laws. How does your state score? If there is work to be done, you can get involved.
Pass Legislation in Your State
Since 1984, when NASO first submitted model legislation regarding assaults against sports officials, members and legislators have used such models to construct their own legislative bills.
There is no fool-proof plan to get the job done. Each state handles legislation differently, and it is up to the local constituency to manage the process effectively.
It is NASO’s goal that individual members utilize the proposed legislative models and work with local legislators to construct viable laws. Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to do some research. Request an NASO Assault Legislation Packet and visit www.naso.org. Contact your state government to find out what specific legislation is in place. And if your state does not have needed laws in place, you can get involved.
1. Contact your local association. Share with your association what other states have done in terms of legislation. Move forward as a united group.
2. Circulate a petition. Ask members of your association and area officials association to sign a petition asking your lawmakers to take action.
3. Gather information. Gather and present information to legislators about incidents that have happened in your state that apply, such as officiating assaults, etc.
4. Get on the phone or Internet. Contact your legislators directly and ask to meet with them to present a packet of information that may help to pass the legislation.
5. Follow up. After talking and meeting with your legislators, follow up with a thank you letter and tell them that you will follow their progress. Keep the topic in the forefront.
Assault Legislation Packets Are Available
For the latest legislation information, visit naso.org. There you will find legislation status in each state, information about model legislation and specific state assault legislation. You can also get more information about what you can do if you are interested in getting legislation passed in your state. Information about how to access information about recent assaults is available as well.
Kansas lawmakers are working to protect officials through increasing the penalties for those who attack them. The proposed bill would elevate the crime for assault and battery against a sports official to a high level misdemeanor.
As of presstime, the last reported action for Kansas House Bill 2532 was a House Hearing on Feb. 17.
John Dehan, of Call the Game, a Kansas City-area group that works with officials for youth to high school activities, said there had been reports of three assaults in the past three summers to his organization
“Violence should not be tolerated in any situation, but specifically, violence committed in public has perhaps a more profound effect on society,” said Rep. Larry Campbell, an Olathe Republican. “It has been reported to me that sports officials are seeing a dramatic increase in violence against them. Many times this occurs in from of small children.”
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal
Other State Assault Actions:
• The Mississippi legislators proposed included assault protections under HB 1177 in 2014, but the bill died in committee.
• Hawaii Senate Bill 2621 called for making it a Class C felony to assault a sports official as a result of the performance of duty at a sports event, but the bill was deferred by the Judicial Committee on Feb. 25.
• In Massachusetts, HB 1605, which would establish a penalty for assault against sports officials, was first introduced in 2013 by Rep. Angelo Scaccia and referred to committee, but the bill reporting date was extended this year by the House and Senate to June 30.
• New Hampshire legislators introduced Senate Bill 320, establishes a specific penalty for simple assault of a sports official at a sports event, in December 2013. On March 13, the bill was referred to Interim Study by the Senate.
• Connecticut HB 5486, which would establish an enhanced penalty for the assault of an umpire, referee or other amateur sports official, was introduced in February. The House referred the bill to the Joint Committee on Judiciary on March 4.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill into law on April 14 making it legal for kids under 14 to referee youth sports and get paid for it. Teen referee Nathaniel Rase was the reason for the push for the new law. Rase made headlines after Lexington police officer Keith Spears was cited for confronting the teen after a game. Following the incident, someone anonymously let the Kentucky Labor Department know that Rase, 13, was working illegally. Representative Ryan Quarles then proposed the bill to get the law changed.
Concussion Legislation Passes in All States
According to USA Football, all states and the District Columbia have passed legislation related to concussions. Officials should be familiar with the legislation in their state related to concussions that occur in athletic events and understand if it impacts them.