Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pennsylvania Legislation Equalizes Treatment for Fallen Heroes

A bill equalizing benefits for first responders was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and is on its way to Governor Rendell for signature.

Pennsylvania State Senator Sean Logan, who sponsored the bill, released the following press release detailing the new program:

The State Senate today unanimously concurred in House amendments to state Sen. Sean Logan’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) bill that would ensure that the families of public safety employees killed in the line of duty receive death benefits.

The bill, Senate Bill 369, now awaits the governor’s signature.

“By sending this bill to the governor, we are honoring the memory of police officers and emergency personnel whose lives and deeds exemplified true heroism,” Logan said. “I am proud this bill has made its way through both chambers and hope that Governor Rendell will sign this bill into law quickly.”

The Logan bill will guarantee killed-in-service death benefits to all spouses or minor children of a paid firefighter, law enforcement officer and ambulance service or rescue squad member equal to the amount of the decedent’s monthly salary.

“The overwhelming bipartisan effort on this bill again proves the state’s dedication and gratitude to police officers and other emergency responders,” Logan added. “They can now be assured that if something were to ever happen to them in the line of duty, that their loved ones will be okay.”

Under previous law, pension and workers’ compensation payments provided death benefits that covered a portion of the salaries of troopers, officers, firefighters and emergency personnel in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and third-class cities that were killed in the line of duty. Under the bill, the state will now pick up the remaining share.

Prior to this bill, boroughs and townships paid the entire cost of benefits for their police. Senate Bill 369 shifts these costs to the state. A Senate actuarial study estimated the annual cost to the state to be $9,000 for each officer killed in the line of duty.

Sen. Jane C. Orie, Majority Whip (R-Allegheny) added, “I was very pleased at the bipartisan effort that moved this essential legislation protecting the families of fallen police officers and other emergency responders through both chambers and onto the Governor.”

Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) noted, “I am proud to have co-sponsored Sen. Logan’s much-needed legislation. The protections offered by this bill for families should something tragic take place will surely make these brave men and women sleep a little easier at night.”

Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Phila.) added, “It is unfathomable that we have not offered these protections to these men and women that put their lives on the line for others day in and day out prior to Sen. Logan’s legislation. All Pennsylvanians are lucky to have such a dedicated public safety force and this gesture shows them that they are appreciated.”

Since 2002, 32 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty. Of these officers, nine were members of the current pension plans providing the killed-in-service benefit. The surviving beneficiaries of the remaining 23 law enforcement officers and an additional 15 firefighters were not eligible for the benefit because these public safety employees were not members of the Act 600 pension plan.

See the text of the legislation here.

To learn more about additional benefits for first responders under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act and Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, contact Quatrini Rafferty at 888-288-9748 or email us.

- Quatrini Rafferty -