Wyoming House defeats health worker assault bill

2013-02-16T12:00:00Z 2013-02-16T14:22:12Z Wyoming House defeats health worker assault billBy JOSHUA WOLFSON Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

House lawmakers Friday voted down stiffer penalties for serious assaults against health workers, reasoning that longer prison sentences would do little to deter would-be attackers.

Opponents of the legislation questioned whether the state should single out doctors, nurses and medics for special protection. They also doubted tougher prison sentences were necessary to safeguard health workers.

“These are valuable people in our community. They do a great service,” said Rep. Tim Stubson, R-Casper. “But this bill does not make them any safer.”

Senate File 114 would have made aggravated assault against health care providers punishable by a maximum of 12 years in prison. Normally, such assaults carry maximum prison terms of a decade.

Supporters of the legislation maintained health workers, like police officers and firefighters, deserved additional protection. During earlier testimony, several providers described being attacked by patients while on the job. One medic said he was intentionally splattered with blood by a person who claimed to have hepatitis C.

The bill had cleared the Senate and two House votes before finally being defeated by a tally of 34-24. Critics of the legislation, including Rep. Bunky Loucks, worried it would spawn other bills designed to carve out protection for certain classes of people.

“I don’t think we want special legislation to protect different groups of occupations,” the Casper Republican said.

The legislation found support from Rep. Norine Kasperik, a former nurse who represents Campbell County. The Republican representative said nurses and doctors focus on their patients, not on who might be attempting to harm them.

“Think about these people, what they do for you and your loved ones every day,” she said.

The bill, sponsored by retired nurse and state Sen. Leslie Nutting, R-Cheyenne, had been through several revisions. In its original form, the legislation called for one-year sentences. Lawmakers later decided that it should focus solely on aggravated assaults, which carry longer prison terms.

Contact Joshua Wolfson at 307-266-0582 or at josh.wolfson@trib.com. Visit http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/wolfjammies to read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @joshwolfson.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Untitled Document

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps...

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

  5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editors@trib.com, or call Editor Jason Adrians at 266-0545 or Content Director David Mayberry at 266-0633. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

  6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

  7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

  8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Featured Businesses