Wisconsin nurses raised their voices to draw policymakers’ attention to an increase in violence against health care workers and their voices were heard. In January 2020, the Wisconsin legislature passed Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 175 (SB163/AB175) creating an enhanced penalty for violence against nurses and other health care workers. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed this legislation into law as Act 97, “Harm to a Health Care Worker – Maximum Possible Criminal Penalty” on Feb. 5, 2020.
An idea does not become legislation and get signed into law without a push, and nurse voices and votes carry weight with their elected officials. These voices are amplified by membership organizations that nurses are a part of, such as the Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Leaders, AONL, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), the American Hospital Association and the Wisconsin Nurses Association.
A coalition of Wisconsin associations worked together to create suggested language for the “Harm to a Health Care Worker” bill’s sponsors, enlist bi-partisan support and provide testimony at committee hearings. When the bill passed, these organizations used the power of their advocacy alerts to ask nurses and other members of the health care workforce to encourage the governor to sign the legislation into law.
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