In a voice vote on Feb. 23, members of the State Assembly voted in favor of legislation that would make threats of violence against a health care worker a felony in Wisconsin, similar to laws that already exist for threats made against law enforcement officers, judges, guardians ad litem and even some state employees.
The legislation received additional action in the Wisconsin State Senate last week, with a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. WHA Senior Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk testified alongside Clark Draxler, clinical manager at Gundersen Health System, and Rudy Jackson, chief nurse executive at UW Health, in support of the proposal.
“I believe Senate Bill 970
[companion to Assembly Bill 960] will have the intended effect and stem the tide of violence and threats of violence perpetrated against health care workers providing care in health care facilities,” testified Jackson.
Draxler stressed the importance of this legislation to everyone who depends on hospital care in Wisconsin. “This isn't about just about the wellness of health care workers; this is also about everyone's ability to access high-quality care when they need it, without enduring abusive and violent behavior from others,” he said.
The bill is now available for a vote in the Wisconsin State Senate. The Senate has already passed similar legislation this session making threats against parole agents and public officials, including state lawmakers and their staff, a felony in Wisconsin. A coalition of more than 22 statewide health care provider organizations support