Republican Lawmakers Propose Plan to Stiffen Penalties for Violence Against Wisconsin Healthcare Workers

Healthcare worker in hair net and mask on

 

Republican lawmakers in the state legislature proposed a plan to stiffen penalties for violence or threats of violence against healthcare workers.

According to the release, the legislation would elevate criminal penalties for battery and threats of violence against healthcare workers to that of the penalties associated with the same acts against law enforcement officers.

“Republicans made significant investments to hospital and personal care workers in the budget. Today, we’re putting forward legislation to protect the frontlines of healthcare and send the clear message that threatening a healthcare worker with violence is not acceptable and will be treated as a serious offense. The stress, pressure, and violence the healthcare profession has endured over the past two years is unprecedented and has contributed to higher attrition rates among nurses and hospital staff when we can least afford to lose them. Republicans are stepping up to let healthcare workers know we have their backs,” said Republican leadership in a statement.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the healthcare industry “accounted for 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in 2018.”

Previously, legislators approved a measure to include a Class H felony for battery to certain healthcare workers; however, they did not address the threat of violence.

According to Wisconsin law, the punishment for a Class H felony is a fine not to exceed $10,000, or up to six years in prison, or both.

“We believe threats of violence to healthcare workers have become a workforce barrier to some of our most critical healthcare staffing positions. The purpose of this legislation is to reinforce to the public that threatening a healthcare worker is not acceptable, a serious offense and is clearly punishable by law,” the group added.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]

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