Missouri lawmakers seek added protections for those officiating sports

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Missouri State Rep. Jerome Barnes (D-Raytown)

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri State High School Activities Association reports a steady decline in the number of individuals wanting to officiate sporting contests. The agency estimates they have approximately 1,000 fewer sports officials than they did a decade ago. Some state officials blame incidents involving anger and even violence towards officials for the decline.

Two lawmakers, a democrat and a republican, are sponsoring legislation aimed at giving those who are trained in officiating sports a special victim’s status. State Rep. Brad Pollitt (R-Sedalia) testified about his bill in front of the Missouri House General Laws Committee on Wednesday.

“I think we need to pass a bill that shows the men and women that referee our contests that the state legislature and the state of Missouri is behind them,” he told the committee.

The same legislation is being proposed by State Rep. Jerome Barnes (D-Raytown).

“Officials are human,” said Barnes. “This is a job for them and I don’t know of no other job where you go to work and take this type of harassment.”

The proposed legislation would grant a special victim’s status for those trained to officiate sports contests. Anyone assaulting them would be subject to a Class A misdemeanor instead of the current Class C penalty.

Here is the bill sponsored by Barnes.

This is the bill sponsor by Pollitt.

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