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Those who assault health care workers could face stiffer penalties

A bill that aims to increase penalties for those who assault health care workers awaits Gov. David Ige’s signature.

House Bill 1906 passed final readings in the House and Senate earlier this month and was sent to the governor for approval.

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The bill amends statutes defining second-degree assault to include a person who intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a person performing duties at a health care facility, including health care professionals, physician assistants, surgical assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, nurse aides, respiratory therapists, laboratory technicians and radiology technicians; to a person providing home health care services; or to a person employed or contracted to work to provide case management services to an individual in a hospital, health care provider’s office or home while performing those services.

Under current state statutes, a person commits second-degree assault if they knowingly cause bodily injury to any emergency medical services providers providing services in the emergency room of a hospital.

Bills submitted to the governor are undergoing policy and legal review, said Jodi Leong, Ige’s press secretary.

According to information provided by Hawaii’s Public Access Room, if Ige signs the bill or if he neither signs nor vetoes the bill by July 10, the measure becomes law.

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If the governor intends to veto the bill, he must inform the Legislature by June 25 and deliver the veto by July 10. If that happens, the bill won’t become law unless both chambers of the Legislature override the veto in a special session by a two-thirds vote by July 10.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.