Enhanced penalties for assaults on health care professionals advanced

Senators advanced a bill Feb. 15 that would enhance penalties for assaulting health care professionals.

Under the original provisions of LB677, introduced by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, a person who is convicted of assault on a health care professional while the health care provider is engaged in his or her official duties, would serve a mandatory minimum sentence of:
• six months imprisonment for third degree assault;
• one year imprisonment for second degree assault; or
• two years imprisonment for first degree assault.

Lathrop introduced an amendment that replaced the original provisions of the bill and instead would provide enhanced penalties for assault on health care professionals on duty at a hospital or a health clinic. A person convicted of such an assault would be guilty of a felony.

Lathrop said that requiring mandatory prison sentences for assaults raised some concerns on general file that the bill would override judges’ sentencing discretion.

“This is a better approach to dealing with assaults on health care professionals,” he said.

The amendment was adopted 39-0 and the bill advanced from select file on a voice vote.

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