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Minutes for HB2620 - Committee on Judiciary

Short Title

Creating the crime of interference with the conduct of a hospital, providing criminal penalties for violation thereof and increasing the criminal penalties for battery of a healthcare provider who is employed by a hospital.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 10, 2022


Chairperson Patton opened the hearing on HB2620. Natalie Scott provided an overview of the bill. (Attachment 1) Ms. Scott stood for questions.



Tara Mays explained that Kansas, like many other states, is facing a crisis in healthcare. The problem, in many ways, is one of staffing shortages that are not unique to their industry. However, their industry is unique in that they cannot turn people away, nor do they want to. The unfortunate reality is that health care workers are assaulted on the job every day. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, violent attacks against medical professionals grew by 67% from 2011 to 2018, with healthcare workers five times more likely to experience workplace violence than workers in all other industries. Hospitals want to support strong sanctions that allow the employee and the hospital to seek legal recourse in instances that need to be addressed through the criminal process. Ms. Mays stood for questions.  (Attachment 2)

Vallerie Gleason stated she and her organization are concerned about their employees' safety and security in their workplaces and off campus. They are also concerned about the safety of all individuals at the hospital such as; visitors and family. Her written testimony provides, in detail, specific issues facing their workers and hospitals. Ms. Gleason stood for questions. (Attachment 3)

Stephanie Wise explained they are in a health care staffing crisis in this country. It’s critical they explore and develop initiatives that not only create a pipeline to health care careers and attract health care professionals to Kansas, but also retain the current workforce. Unlike other professions or places of business, federal law requires hospitals to treat all who walk through their Emergency Department doors. The ongoing acts of violence are interfering with critical emergency services. Ms. Wise said in 2021, Shawnee Mission campus experienced an average of nine incidents per month resulting in injury to their staff. That violence was intentional and not the result of a medical condition. Ms. Wise stood for questions. (Attachment 4)

Morgan Gerhardt testified that the current members of her department feel 1) it is becoming a part of the job and 2) if it does happen, why report it nothing will be done. She feels it is time that Kansas stands up to protect its' healthcare workers. Hospitals need to ensure that all healthcare workers who have been bitten, punched, kicked and attacked while they were trying to give the best of care can hold their attackers accountable and face consequences for their actions. Ms. Gerhardt stood for questions. (Attachment 5)

Julianna Reischick stated their staff works day and night for the betterment of the community and struggles with burnout. The additional safety challenges they face make it that much more challenging for the hospital to recruit and retain healthcare staff to care for their community. They believe this proposed legislation will send a powerful message that the state is serious about protecting their healthcare heroes and help empower them to report these incidents. Ms. Reischick asked the membership to support the passage of HB2620 and stood for questions. (Attachment 6)

Jon Brady, on behalf of Saint Luke’s Health System and its over 12,0000 employees in 8 hospitals, stated they support the elements of HB2620. Mr. Brady talked about the same difficult behavior their health professionals are faced with daily. Mr. Brady stood for questions. (Attachment 7)

Ed Klumpp stated HB2620 will create a new crime of interference with the conduct of a hospital, including an aggravated crime when the offender is in possession of a weapon. This is consistent with existing statutes for interference with the conduct of public business in public buildings and aggravated interference with the conduct of public business (KSA 21-5922). In addition, Mr. Klump explained that health care workers are like Law Enforcement Officers, etc. because this violence interferes with their ability to provide critical services to the community. Additionally concerning is that health care workers are in an environment rich in the availability of weapons. HB2620 enhances the penalty for misdemeanor battery of a health care worker from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor. This is the equivalent of the enhancement for battery to a school employee. Mr. Klump urged the membership to move favorably for HB2620 and stood for questions.(Attachment 8)

Kelly Sommers explained according to the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics, nurses are responsible to “create an ethical environment and culture of civility and kindness, treating colleagues, coworkers, employees, students, and others with dignity and respect”. Nurses should be afforded the same kind of respect and not subject to violence of any kind. She stated violence is a growing concern. Ms. Sommers stood for questions. (Attachment 9)

John F. McMaster, M.D. told the committee this is the third time he has supported this legislation. He said Kansas owes it to the health care teams and the institutions which they work to protect their ability to practice their vocation without the fear of suffering from assaults or bodily injury. Mr. McMaster stood for questions. (Attachment 10)

Morgan Stebens shared that crisis prevention intervention (CPI) is now a regular course within health care facilities. This training is occurring because of the possibility of health care workers having to defend themselves against a patient or visitor. That violence has become a part of the health care culture. While they have implemented these training strategies within health care facilities to help health care providers react to situations that become unsafe, laws have not kept up with the violence that healthcare workers experience. HB2620 will assist in providing my colleagues a safe space to care for your loved ones. Ms. Stebens stood for questions. (Attachment 11)

Sarah Evans-Simpson explained the same type of workplace violence as the previous conferees. She explained her personal experience where the district attorney did not support an assault claim that she filed. Ms. Evans-Simpson thanked the membership for their work on such important legislation and stood for questions. (Attachment 12)


Daytha Willson shared HB2620 will give those providing care a sense of security that their lives and profession receives the respect due to them as they selflessly put themselves in a position to assist and serve the public. Ms. Wilson provided several examples of the violence. She stood for questions. (Attachment 13)

The committee membership had numerous questions to those individuals who had concerns about law enforcement and district attorney's who were not supporting them in their claims against their attackers.

Written Proponent

Steve Kearney, Executive Director, Kansas County and District Attorney’s Association (Attachment 14)

Katheryn Hay BSN, RN, CEN; Citizen (Attachment 15)

Joshua J. Davis, MD (Attachment 16)

Teresa Taylor, Government Affairs Chair, Kansas Emergency Nurses Association (Attachment 17)

Chairperson Patton closed the hearing on HB2620.