Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, has reworked his bill to make it a felony to assault or batter a health care worker, and this time, the bill won unanimous support from the House Judiciary Committee and is headed to the full House for debate. An earlier bill was shot down in the same committee on a tied vote, amid concerns over imposing a 25-year prison term and other questions. The new bill, HB 292, imposes up to a five-year prison term, and adds protections for mentally ill patients who don’t intend to harm their health care providers. It also limits the additional penalty to attacks on a state-licensed, certified or registered health care provider or an employee of a hospital, clinic or medical practice who is attacked on duty or because of their work.
“It taught me the importance of the process,” Malek said. “We believed in the bill we brought at first, but it truly is a better bill for being shot down and reworking it.” Malek now has two House co-sponsors, fellow freshman GOP Reps. Mark Patterson and Janet Trujillo. He said he was prompted to pursue the legislation by reports from Kootenai Medical Center about increasing violent attacks on health care workers; Idaho law already has felony provisions for attacks on EMS providers, police officers, social workers and certain others.