FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Three Republican lawmakers in Kentucky say they plan to introduce a bill that would make intimidating sports officials a misdemeanor offense.

State Rep. Randy Bridges of Paducah said Tuesday that the measure aims to restore respect for sports officials. The bill would also create a felony offense for physically assaulting officials.

Bridges says the goal is to prevent “highly charged” situations from escalating at sporting events.

The bill stems from a spring incident in which a Kentucky referee was punched and knocked unconscious in Paducah. The alleged assailant is charged with assault.

The referee, Kenny Culp, expressed support for the bill during a news conference Tuesday.

Under the bill, an intimidation offense would include threatening physical injury or property damage.

The bill’s cosponsors include Reps. Brandon Reed and Chad McCoy.

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