New law in Washington and Idaho aims to protect utility workers

House Bill 1380 in Washington and Senate Bill 1321 in Idaho were signed into law in 2019 and 2022. These bills provide an additional layer of safety for utility workers because they will increase the penalty for a person convicted of assaulting a utility worker while the worker is engaged in their usual work activities.

“It doesn’t happen every day, but there have been times when my crew and I have been confronted by someone threatening to hurt us if we step foot on their property” said an Avista Line Serviceman. "It’s tough because we’re just trying to do our jobs and return home safely each night.”

Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle, and Rep. Linda Wright Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, sponsored the bill in Idaho after saying there has been an increase in confrontations, violence and threats made against utility workers over the past three or four years.

In Washington, the bill was sponsored by State Representative Mike Pelliccotti. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77 testified in favor of the measure and it passed unanimously in the State House of Representatives on a 47 to one vote in the Senate.

“I’m pleased at the outcome of these two pieces of legislation," said Avista CEO Dennis Vermillion. "We care about our employees and their safety. We want them to be able to continue to serve our customers with safe and reliable energy services without having to deal with issues of violence when performing their work. Customers also benefit from this legislative outcome. Safe employees help to contribute to reliable and timely response in serving customers.”

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