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Ohio Legislators Propose a Bill to Protect Referees

a photo of a referee at a basketball game
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The bill would make assaulting a sports official a fifth-degree felony.

Referees at sporting events are used to being heckled by fans but sometimes, they are victims of actual assault. A new bill has been introduced in the Ohio Legislature to address that problem.

Democratic Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) is also a college basketball referee. He says he hasn’t been assaulted by over-zealous fans but he’s aware of some of those situations.

“Officials have either been attacked on the field, on the court or in the act of officiating or even afterwards walking out to their car or after the game at a location nearby where maybe they have stopped to eat or drink and people have accosted them.”

Miller, along with his colleague Rep. Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) are sponsoring a bill that would make assaulting a sports official a fifth-degree felony. That is the current penalty for assaulting teachers, school administrators and bus drivers. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.
Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.