There are a few bills making their rounds in the Capitol addressing sports officials in Iowa. One is House File 2043. It was filed by Rep. Bob Kressig (D-Black Hawk).
The bill relates to civil liability of sports officials and provides criminal penalties for assault of sports officials.
Kressig said the bill is a draft from the National Association of Sports Officials.
“I was contacted by a constituent who is a sports official and shared that Iowa doesn’t provide protection for sports officials in the event of a liability issue or altercation,” Kressig said.
Kressig’s bill provides that a sports official who officiates an athletic contest at any level of competition in Iowa shall not be liable to any person in any civil action for injuries or damages claimed to have arisen due to actions or inactions within the confines of the athletic facility at which the athletic contest is played related in any manner to the sports official’s officiating duties.
This would not apply to a sports official who causes injury or damage to a person by actions or inactions that are intentional, malicious or grossly negligent.
The bill also provides that a person who commits an assault against a sports official, with the knowledge that the person against whom the assault is committed is a sports official, and with the intent to commit a serious injury, is guilty of a Class D felony. A person who commits an assault against a sports official, who knows that the person against whom the assault is committed is a sports official, and who uses or displays a dangerous weapon in connection with the assault, is guilty of a Class D felony.
Those same parameters included with someone who causes bodily injury or mental illness is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.
Iowa has an official shortage, and this bill may at least slightly help with that problem.
“He shared that the lack of protection for officials is why some are unwilling to be a sports official,” Kressig said of the constituent who reached out to him.
Whether this bill, or one like it, advances through the legislature, Kressig said is really up to the majority party.
“I really don’t know what the majority party will do,” he said. “I know there are people that will be advocating for the legislation.”