By Alex Lloyd Gross
Senate Bill 1208 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and now goes before the full senate for a vote. lt is expected to pass. President Trump is is expected to sign this bill into law, one the house signs off on it as well..Failure to act on this bill or to vote against it is political suicide. This is an election year. No politician wants to be slammed in public for not supporting first responders in their time of need. The Public Safety Officers Benefit bill is a great cause for those in office to actually do something worthwhile for first responders across the nation.
Currently, those people that serve in posts as Fire Police or do scene security have a hard way to go to claim benefits. A lawyer with the justice department has denied benefits on a technicality that was not intended. Directing traffic is not fire suppression and it is a police function, it is also not technically law enforcement. The lawyers use that argument to deny benefits, on claims and then they can boast that they saved the US Treasury money. This response has drawn the ire of first responders across the nation. Senator Richard Blumenthal ( D-CT) put in language that specifically includes “Members that are detailed to scene security or traffic management duties”.
According to the National Volunteer Fire Council : In addition to the fire police language, S. 1208 redefines “catastrophic injury” to make it possible for public safety officers who suffer a permanently disabling injury in the line of duty to qualify for PSOB even if they are still able to work in a limited, reduced capacity. S. 1208 would also establish that a public safety officer who becomes paraplegic, quadriplegic, or blind as a result of a line-of-duty injury automatically qualifies for PSOB. S. 1208 also addresses issues related to PSOB awards to the survivors of public safety officers who died as a result of an illnesses contracted via exposure sustained in responding to or assisting in recovery efforts associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The bill ensures that the children of public safety officers who were born after 9/11 are eligible beneficiaries, and also clarifies that beneficiaries receive the current award amount rather than the amount from 2001.
Fire Police do not exist in every state, Senate Bill 1208 takes that into consideration and makes null and void any excuse offered by a bureaucrat that would seek to deny benefits that their peers would be getting, had the same injury or misfortune happen to them.