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Eye On Boise

Bill would impose stiff penalties for attacks on health care workers

Idaho already has a law providing stiff felony penalties – up to 25 years in prison – for assault and battery on certain official personnel, including judges, police officers, prosecutors, bailiffs, prison or jail guards, parole officers, social workers, firefighters, Tax Commission agents, and Emergency Medical Services workers. Today, freshman Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, introduced legislation to expand that to any health care worker.

“Given increased drug abuse problems and mental health issues, there’s an increased risk to individuals who are mandated to provide care,” said Malek, a former deputy Kootenai County prosecutor. He said he hopes the measure “acts … as a deterrent.”

The measure adds to the list “any person licensed, certified or registered by the state of Idaho to provide health care, an employee of a hospital, medical clinic or medical practice.” In addition to providing for up to 25 years in prison for battery with intent to commit a serious felony against anyone on the list, the existing law provides for doubling the punishment for other violent attacks on the listed people. Malek persuaded the House Judiciary Committee to vote to introduce the bill this afternoon, though members had lots of questions, including whether the bill would lead to harsh penalties against mentally ill people. Malek said it would apply only to acts with criminal intent. It’s the freshman lawmaker’s first bill.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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