The Ohio House unanimously voted to approve a bill that would increase penalties for assault if the victim is acting as a sports official.
"Ohio needs to do more to protect our sports officials to avoid the looming crisis of referee shortages before they become a major obstacle for scheduling sporting events," said Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst).
The legislation would require a mandatory fine of $1,500 and 40 hours of community service for a misdemeanor offense.
"House Bill 44 sends an unmistakable message that we will not tolerate the assault of sports officials," Miller said.
According to the National Association of Sports Officials, 21 states have officiating assault laws. Ohio only has limited liability.
The group also found more than 75% of all high school officials say "adult behavior" is the primary reason they quit and 80% of all young referees quit after two years.