State lawmaker: Take a knee, provide NFL refund

Smith will submit legislation to require reimbursement for tickets if spectator is offended by kneeling

Some Hoosier politicians are still having a hard time with NFL players kneeling for the National Anthem.

Vice President Mike Pence, the Columbus native and former Indiana governor, flew to Indianapolis to be on hand for special ceremonies Oct. 8 honoring an Indianapolis Colts icon whose number was retired and his name added to the team’s Ring of Honor, following unveiling of a statue the previous day.

“Looking forward to cheering for our @Colts & honoring the great career of #18 Peyton Manning at @LucasOilStadium today. Go Colts!” Pence tweeted prior to the kickoff.

But Pence and his wife, Karen, left the stadium shortly after the pre-game National Anthem, when some some of the San Francisco 49ers players knelt.

Later, the vice president explained his actions in another tweet: “President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag or our National Anthem … We should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.

Trump had said on Twitter that he instructed Pence to leave if any players knelt.

Now, another Indiana politician is weighing in on the matter.

State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, who raised money so Columbus North band members could attend North alum Pence’s inauguration, said he will propose a bill in the 2018 General Assembly on the matter.

Smith said he will submit legislation that spectators offended by professional athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem be entitled to request a full ticket price refund during the first quarter.

The Columbus lawmaker said he was motivated to file the bill after taking his family to watch the Colts play the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 24 — two weeks before Pence walked out of Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I saw as many as eight Colts players not only take a knee, but also turn their backs to the flag,” Smith said. “That offended me as a patriot and as a U.S. citizen.”

While allowing that his proposal does nothing to prevent professional athletes from protesting, Smith said the bill does provide a recourse to those who feel offended, Smith said.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.