Legislation to increase benefits for the children and spouses of public safety employees statewide moves quickly through the House Ways & Means committee.
Closing current loopholes, Rep. Tami Green‘s (D-Lakewood) House Bill 2519 improves benefits for the families of fallen and severely disabled law enforcement officers, firefighters and state troopers. This includes removing a 10-year service requirement for survivors of duty-related deaths to qualify for a survivor annuity so that a rookie officer leaves behind just as much for his or her family as a 10-year veteran.
“This bill is about looking after the families of the brave people who look after us,” Green said. “Every day, police officers and firefighters and state troopers put on their uniforms and put their lives on the line. But our laws have loopholes. Until you’ve served 10 years in uniform, your family isn’t eligible for important benefits if you’re killed in the line of duty. We can fix that today.”
Green’s HB 2519 makes it mandatory for state institutions of higher education to waive tuition and fees for children and spouses of fallen and severely disabled law enforcement officers, firefighters and state troopers.
“This bill gives us the ability to say that we can do something,” Green said. “The most important thing we can do is make sure that the surviving spouses and the children of these folks are taken care of.”
Another major component of Green’s HB 2519 is that it exempts duty-related death survivors from general provisions that halt workers’ compensation pension benefits after remarriage so that spouses will not have to choose between remarriage and a financial burden.
“This bill is long overdue and much needed,” said Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar. “We need to send a clear message that if you’re out there and you’re doing your job and doing it well, your family is going to be taken care of.”