State Senator Andre Jacque is a co-sponsor of new bipartisan legislation that would increase the crime of harassing sports officials to a Class A misdemeanor. It currently has the support of the WIAA under the belief that it could improve the retention of officials at a time when there is a severe shortage. Currently, 75 to 80 percent of officials quit within two years. Jacque says it’s the penalties that are changing, not the crimes.
When determining what harassment is, significant discretion is given to judges. The bill is not meant to punish a momentary outburst or something yelled from the stands. It is designed to protect from physical altercations and conduct that could reasonably be perceived as threatening.