Young Newburgh resident’s bill approved by House committee | News
The Indiana House of Representatives Committee on Employment, Labor and Pensions has unanimously approved a bill inspired by a 13-year-old Newburgh resident.
Senate Bill 153, authored by State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) and sponsored by State Rep. Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville), would create an exemption in Indiana's child labor laws to allow Hoosiers younger than age 14 to work as youth athletic program referees, umpires or officials. It passed the committee 12-0.
Evansville Holy Rosary Catholic School student Matthew Burkart of Newburgh asked Becker and Crouch to carry the legislation after he was turned away from taking a referee job or even volunteering as an official for a local soccer club. Burkart testified in both the Senate and House committee hearings.
“I am here on behalf of 12- and 13-year-old Hoosier kids who would like the opportunity to be referees, umpires or officials,” Burkart said. “This bill will get kids off the couches and iPads and help teach us responsibility, commitment and confidence through a job that we can enjoy for much of our lives. It shows that Indiana is a place where leaders are working to help kids succeed and not holding them back.”
Becker said there’s a shortage of officials for soccer clubs around the state, but no shortage of support for Burkart’s idea.
“As Matthew said, this initiative would allow Hoosiers to take on responsibility at a young age and creates another avenue for them to actively participate in sports,” Becker said. “What’s more, many coaches and parents around the state agree with him. Matthew has collected 140 signatures on a petition he started in favor of this legislation. Even Indiana’s famed soccer star Lauren Cheney has signed in support. He truly believes in the importance of this legislation, and I back him 100 percent.”
Crouch commended Burkart for his hard work, noting that there’s a true need for this legislation as it would potentially help 300 12- and 13-year-old Hoosiers who want to referee.
“The initiative taken by young Hoosiers like Matthew is incredible,” Crouch said. “These truly are the future leaders of our state. I commend Matthew not only for his articulate and well thought out testimony, but also for the time and effort he has put into garnering support for youth referees.”
Indiana Soccer President Murray Clark also testified in support of the bill. SB 153 now moves to the full House of Representatives for further consideration.