Friday, October 30, 2020

State Sen. Weaver, State Rep. Roe: SQ805 would endanger Oklahoma healthcare workers

The following press release is from Oklahomans United Against 805:

Safety of Oklahoma Healthcare Workers Threatened by SQ 805 
Oklahoma hospitals report between 5 to 10 assaults on workers every day
Oklahoma City — SQ 805, the effort to reduce incarceration by lessening penalties on habitual offenders, has come under fire from those who have worked to protect Oklahoma’s front-line health care workers. 

“It is unconscionable, especially during this time of Covid, that any group would seek to lessen punishment for those who attack our healthcare workers,” stated Darrell Weaver, the state senator who authored SB 1290 to increase the range of punishment for those assaulting medical professionals in the line of duty.  

SQ 805 would restrict the ability of judges and juries to extend harsher penalties on habitual criminals, such as those who attack health care workers.  SQ 805 uses Title 57, Section 571 as it existed on January 1, 2020, to define the difference between violent and non-violent felonies.  Assault on a medical professional is not on that list.  

“We have worked for years to extend the protections to our nurses,” Weaver continued.  “SQ 805 is a substantial step backwards.  It will prohibit the use of prior felony convictions to extend the punishment of those attacking the very folks we depend on.  SQ 805 will forever enshrine in our constitution that such attacks are quote, non-violent, un-quote,” Weaver added.  

State Representative Cynthia Roe, co-author of the legislation and a front-line nurse herself also expressed concern.  ”SQ 805 seeks to minimize very serious crimes, including attacks on our health care professionals. And we have to address this issue.  Oklahoma hospitals report between 5 and 10 assaults on workers every day.  We have to address this issue in a very serious manner, and SQ 805 makes it more difficult,” Roe continued.  

“SQ 805 would mean someone with a history of committing felonies such as domestic violence, assault on a health care worker, and other serious crimes would always face the sentence range of a first-time offender.  We need to be telling those working in health care that we value their service.  SQ 805 does the opposite. It sends a message that their safety is of less value than that of a criminal,” Weaver added. 

“This is not just about nurses,” Roe added. “This applies to paramedics, therapists, pharmacists, and others providing medical services.  Unfortunately, there are more attacks on health care workers than any other segment of the workforce, according to the Department of Labor.  To say somehow these are not violent, as is done by SQ 805, is simply wrong,” Roe concluded.  

“Senator Weaver and Representative Roe have been champions for the safety of nurses like me.  We have all worked extremely hard and it really is a slap in the face that this SQ 805 effort ignores the very real problems we face as we try to help our fellow Oklahomans,” said Amy Eberle, a nurse from OU with 19 years of experience.  

“Together, Representative Roe and I ask that you stand with the more than 90,000 medical professionals in Oklahoma and vote NO on SQ 805,” Weaver concluded.   


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