TASO Legislative Initiatives
One on the points of the TASO Mission Statement is “… to be the main advocate for sports
officials…”. To that end, TASO has
been instrumental in the creation of two bills currently working their way
through the legislative process. Both of
these bills address issues that are important to not only TASO members, but
also all sports officials involved in amateur sports. Following is a brief description and intent
of each bill.
HB 1040: This bill addresses a situation that occurred
several years ago when an official was involved in a collision with a coach
that was in the restricted area on the sideline. Unfortunately, the coach was severely
injured. The day before the statute of limitations
expired the school district’s workers compensation insurance carrier filed a
multi‑million dollar lawsuit against not only the official involved in the
accident, but also all officials on the field.
Eventually the suit was dismissed but our TASO members suffered through
several years of concern and fear over the potential outcome.
HB 1040, carried by Representative Chris Paddie (House
District 9) is designed to limit the liability of sports officials when someone
is injured on the field or court. The
official is protected from legal action unless gross negligence or wanton, willful,
or intentional misconduct.
Passage of this bill will ensure that TASO members and other
sports officials will not need to endure the painful process of being a defendant
in a frivolous lawsuit. TASO owes
Representative Paddie a great deal of thanks for the recognition of the need
for this bill and the actions taken.
HB1829: Several years ago the criminal assault statute was
amended to upgrade an assault on a sports official from a Class C misdemeanor
to a Class B. While this is effective in
dealing with fans, the glaring loophole in this statue is that “participants”
in the game or match are excluded. This
means that coaches, team staff, players and yes, officials were excluded. Most of us will agree that a moment of anger
by a student athlete should not be on his/her record that may affect them many
HB 1829, introduced by TASO Football Life Member, State
Representative Ed Thompson (House District 29) will only exclude players under
19 years of age. When passed, an assault
in conjunction with a sporting event, an assault will be upgraded to a Class A
misdemeanor. This will include fans,
spectators, coaches, staff, and yes, officials.
Assaults on officials are rare in UIL, TAPPS and other private school
leagues, and occur more frequently in recreational leagues, adult and youth,
club and select leagues.
As a 40+ year official, Representative Thompson is the
perfect champion for this bill. TASO is greatly
appreciative of his actions that will benefit Texas sports officials.
You may be asking how you can help with passage of these important
bills. As they both work their way
through the committee process, just be patient.
When the time comes for a call to action, I will let you know. I will report to you the progress of these
bills as they progress.