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Lawmakers consider harsher penalties for attacking sports referees

Jack Amick

People who attack sports referees would face tougher penalties under legislation in the state Senate.

Under the bills, a person would face up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for attacking a referee.

“I think whenever you do that you’re inviting a riot, dozens of injuries, and probably even death,” said Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee

“It happens in other countries – we don’t want it to happen here.”

Jones’ committee approved the legislation on Tuesday, sending it to the Senate floor.

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, voted against the bill in committee. He says creating a special class of criminal penalties for a specific profession is unfair to other victims.

A referee died shortly after being punched during a recreational soccer match in Livonia last year.