While most people could care less about the politics in the state of California, I couldn’t help but take notice of two items California Governor Jerry Brown put his name on last week that could be the start of a trend nationwide.
On Friday, Gov. Brown signed a law that lowers the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor for people who expose another person intentionally with HIV.
It was noted that the original law treated HIV more seriously than someone infecting another with any other communicable disease.
Under that law, a person infecting someone with HIV without telling their partner they were a carrier could face years of jail time due to the felony crime.
Under the new law, intentional transmission of all communicable diseases, like HIV and hepatitis, will only be a misdemeanor offense.
California State Senator Joel Anderson was quoted on the issue as a Republican lawmaker who voted against the bill.
“I’m of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any kind of normalcy, it should be a felony,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
To me, if criminal intent could be proven, that someone should be held responsible.
Another piece of legisltation signed by Gov. Brown involved California health care workers being possibly fined or could face jail time for willfully and repeatedly declining to use a senior transgender patient’s preferred name or pronoun.
While some political fact check websites and the democrat who sponsored the bill said the threat of jail time is just a scare tactic being used by those opposing the legislation, the actual bill language seems pretty clear to me.
The legislation says “it shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status.”
While California State Senator Scott Weiner says that criminal penalties will only effect those persons who expose a patient to the risk of death or serious harm, that statement is not true.
Here’s what the stipulation itself reads:
1248.8. (a) Any person or entity that willfully violates this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted under this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) per day of violation.
(b) In determining the punishment to be imposed under this section, the court shall consider all relevant facts, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Whether the violation exposed a patient or other individual to the risk of death or serious physical harm.
(2) Whether the violation had a direct or immediate relationship to health, safety, or security of a patient or other individual.
(3) Evidence, if any, of willfulness in the violation.
(4) The presence or absence of good faith efforts by the outpatient setting to prevent the violation.
(c) For purposes of this section, willfully or willful means that the person doing an act or omitting to do an act intends the act or omission, and knows the relevant circumstances connected with the act or omission.
(d) The district attorney of every county shall, upon application by the Division of Medical Quality or its authorized representative, institute and conduct the prosecution of any action or violation within the county of any provisions of this chapter.
The law and its punishment are up for discussion.
While some pundits say a violation will be handled no differently than someone violating a smoking ban at a facility, with this being in the state of California, I wouldn’t trust that observation.
These two policies could be coming to Missouri and states around us in the future.
I’m thankful I don’t live in California…