Privacy Bills in the Senate, a First Look: David Balmer is on a Quixotic Mission to Extend Privileged Testimony
by Eileen | 2:51 pm, January 24, 2013 | Comments Off
WHAT: SB 13-038, Extending confidentiality of communications with peer support to emergency responders
WHO: Sen. David Balmer (R-27)
WHY:Because everyone needs to unload once in a while
As it stands now, police officers and fire fighters who seek counseling from peer support members have confidentiality in court with regard to those communications. David Balmer would like to extend that privilege to first responders and members of rescue units. I’m adding this good ideas with poor forecasts.
The idea is that people whose job consists of cleaning up messes and dealing with strangers on the worst days of their lives experience stress. In particular, stress that only other people who have that same job are really equipped to understand or remedy.
I don’t think this bill will fail because anyone has anything in particular against paramedics and rescue personnel, but because it’s just not a priority for the current legislature.
The existing law, benefiting cops and firemen, doesn’t apply when the individual “was a witness or a party to an incident which prompted the delivery of peer support services” and the proposed extension of the law wouldn’t change that. Thus, it’s far more about privacy for sensitive, personal matters than it is a matter of making exculpatory evidence available to the courts or ensuring that public affairs are duly entered into the public record.
That Sen. Balmer has no co-sponsors signals that none of his fellow legislators share this viewpoint, or whatever sense of urgency prompted him to run the bill. They may be concerned about a slippery slope, and that’s not without merit. They may also be hoping to head off the further medicalization of each and every moan or whimper. Or they may not be thinking about it; we have citizens legislators who can’t possibly be expected to have more than passing familiarity with most of what passes through the committee rooms.
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