Parents who strike a referee could pay more in fines

Parents who lose their temper and strike a referee at their child’s Little League game now will face larger fines and more time behind bars in Louisiana.

House Bill 227 was one of 56 bills that Gov. Bobby Jindal announced signing Monday. Five bills still await the governor’s decision.

State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans, said he filed HB227 to send a message that parents and guardians need to keep their anger in check at athletic events. “You can still yell and scream all you want. This is physical contact,” Henry said.

Committing the crime of battery of a school or recreation athletic contest official — in other words, hitting a referee — used to be punishable by a $500 maximum fine and up to six months in jail. Now a single punch could cost a parent at least $1,000, and possibly as much as $5,000, as well as five days in jail. Serious injury could increase the time behind bars.

“The purpose of the bill is to add a little more teeth so parents and guardians won’t overreact at Little League games,” Henry said.

He said it’s frightening for the referee and embarrassing for the child when mom or dad storms the field at a baseball game. In Utah, an angry encounter resulted in a referee’s death, although the person throwing the punch was a player.

Jindal also signed legislation that strips approval of the state higher education commissioner’s salary from the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

The Board of Regents last week launched a search for a new commissioner, and leaders advocated during the session for SB108 to eliminate steps of legislative approval required before they kicked off the process.

Originally, Regents also pushed to have Senate confirmation removed from the hiring process, but senators balked at that proposal so the next commissioner will be subject to Senate confirmation.

Leaders expect the next commissioner, likely to be hired in October, will be paid in the mid-$300,000 range.

Elizabeth Crisp with the Capitol News Bureau contributed to this report.

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