COLUMBUS -- State Representatives John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) and Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) yesterday introduced House Bill 759, bipartisan legislation to create a study committee that would examine the discrepancy in death benefits between full-time police officers and firefighters and their part-time counterparts. The Volunteer Peace Officer and Firefighter Benefit Study Committee created by the legislation would propose recommendations to make benefits available to volunteer peace officers and firefighters and their dependents should a volunteer first responder be killed or disabled in the line of duty. 


“First responders are the backbone of our communities. They arrive when we call to ensure our safety and well-being, and we should make sure we do as much as possible for their families when tragedy strikes,” said Rep. Rogers. “I believe a thorough review of the benefits paid to the families of these fallen first responders will unfortunately show significant disparities exist in support available between the surviving families of part-time first responders as compared to their full-time counterparts. Furthermore, the devastation that occurs with the loss of a spouse or a parent, especially when the loss involves a part-time first responder, is likely to exacerbate any financial disaster that their loved ones may face.”


“A fire does not care if a firefighter is employed part-time or full-time. A perpetrator who shoots to kill a responding police officer does not ask if he or she is a part-time or full-time employee. As such, the committee created by House Bill 759 will seek to both account for and remedy these disparities in order to create a more equitable system of benefits, relieving some families from the likelihood of having to seek aid in the form of government assistance or welfare,” Rogers concluded.


The bipartisan committee would be comprised of members of both the Ohio House and Senate, along with representatives from the Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund and Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.


“When a first responder goes out on a call, it should not matter if they are full-time or part-time,” said Rep. Hoops. “Both put their lives in harm’s way, and the families of both have to endure hardship if something should happen. The committee will take a hard look at this situation and aim to come up with a fair solution.”


In the coming weeks, HB 759 will be assigned to committee by the House Rules and Reference Committee.


 


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