The West Virginia Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to prohibit and criminalize the doxxing of health care workers and other first responders in the state.

Senate Bill 477 — which passed the Senate unanimously with one member absent and not voting — will now advance to the House for introduction. There was no discussion on the bill during Wednesday’s floor session.

The proposed bill would make it illegal to knowingly publish personal, identifying information for health care workers, law enforcement, firefighters and EMS or their families with the intent to cause them harm. It also allows those workers to request that government agencies remove any publicly posted information identifying them.

Anyone who violates the proposed law could, on a first offense, be fined up to $500 as well as six months in jail on a misdemeanor charge. On a second offense, the penalties would increase to $1,000 and a year in jail.

As originally introduced, the legislation would have only applied to health care workers in the state who have direct contact with patients. Last week, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to apply to all first responders in the state.

The legislation was marked before the start of session as a legislative priority for the West Virginia Hospital Association as part of its efforts to recruit and retain health care workers in the state. While threats to health care workers are not new, Hospital Association Executive Director Jim Kaufman said they started to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The introduced bill was modeled after a piece of legislation in Colorado. There, the state adopted a similar law protecting public health professionals in 2021 in response to threats made regularly during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, Colorado lawmakers expanded the bill to cover all health care workers, Child Protective Service employees as well as code enforcers. 

During Wednesday’s floor session, SB 477 was approved unanimously by the Senate, with one member absent and not voting. It now advances to the House for consideration.

** West Virginia Watch is a nonprofit media source. Articles are shared under creative commons license. Please visit for more independent Mountain State news coverage.

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