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Utility workers could get more protection from angry, attacking residents under House proposal

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 22, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – Sometimes, life on the job is tough for utility workers. There have been cases of the workers getting yelled at, attacked or even spit on when they must enter people’s property to do their job.

To help protect them, Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Evansville, proposed a bill that would increase the penalty for those accused of attacking a utility worker when they’re on the job.

A utility worker would include people employed by the following groups:

  • a public utility
  • a municipally owned utility
  • a cable or satellite television company
  • a telecommunications carrier
  • an electric cooperative
  • a telephone cooperative
  • a nonprofit utility.

Bacon said somebody from a utility company reached out to him and discussed the problem they have, and asked if he would help protect them.

“These things do happen,” Bacon said. “We’ve read about it in the paper. We’ve seen people be attacked and so forth, or be spit upon, things of that nature. They just wanted to have their workers protected.”

Battery against a utility worker could move from a Class B misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony if the bill passes.

Indianapolis Power and Light believes the bill could help utility workers “avoid dangerous situations,” IPL spokesperson Claire Rice said.

“IPL supports those efforts that can further help the safety and well-being of our people,” Rice said.

“They’re just going where their easements allow them to go,” Bacon said. “Some things escalate into other problems. People get upset and get mad. … We should protect them because they’re there because they have to be. They don’t have a choice. They’re working. This is where they’re dispatched to.”

HB 1016 has been referred to the Committee on Courts and Criminal Code. It has not yet been granted a hearing.

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