(WKYT) – Three Republican lawmakers in Kentucky say they plan to introduce a bill that would make intimidating sports officials a misdemeanor offense.
Kenny Culp was badly injured while refereeing a game back in April. He’s supporting a bill to protect referees.
State Rep. Randy Bridges, R-Paducah, said Tuesday that the measure aims to restore respect for sports officials.
The bill would also create a felony offense for physically assaulting officials.
“We’ve got to do something to prevent these highly charged situations from escalating,” said Rep. Bridges.
The bill stems from a spring incident in which a Kentucky referee was punched and knocked unconscious in Paducah.
Referee Kenny Culp says he also had a broken collarbone, a brain bleed, and a broken sinus cavity.
The alleged assailant is charged with assault.
Culp said he supports the bill, and he says he’s hoping to wear his stripes and blow his whistle once again.
“I’d rather die on the court than not do it,” said Culp.
Butch Cope with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association says they’re seeing about 100 fewer refs each year in part because of the treatment of sports officials.
Under the bill, an intimidation offense would include threatening physical injury or property damage and would be a Class A misdemeanor.
The bill’s cosponsors include Reps. Brandon Reed and Chad McCoy.