House Bill 23 Honors a Commitment to Support Peace Officers and Firefighters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2017

Juneau – Today, legislation to extend healthcare coverage to the families of peace officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty officially passed the Alaska State Legislature. House Bill 23, sponsored by Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), passed the Alaska House of Representatives on a unanimous vote in March and a slightly different version of the bill passed the Alaska State Senate last week by a vote of 19-0. The Alaska House formally concurred with the Senate changes to the bill earlier today.

HB 23 would create a special fund under the direction of the Alaska Department of Public Safety to cover health insurance at the same level the families were receiving when their loved one was killed on the job.

“The State Troopers, police, and firefighters who go to work every day to protect Alaskans face dangers at every turn but they make that sacrifice for the greater good. I firmly believe that sacrifice demands that we, as Alaskans, make sure their families are cared for with health care if tragedy strikes and they are killed on the job. That is also for the greater good,” said Rep. Josephson. “Passage of this bill means we are half way there in resolving this issue. I will continue working to ensure that the families of municipal police and firefighters have the same protections we just provided for the peace officers and firefighters who work for the State of Alaska.”

HB 23 calls for the State of Alaska to pay 100 percent of the premiums for the families of state peace officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty for up to 10 years, or until dependent children lose eligibility.

“The issue of providing continuing health care coverage to the families of fallen public safety professionals has proven extremely challenging, which has delayed a solution. However, solutions require compromise and if there was ever an issue where solutions should outweigh politics, it’s this issue,” said HB 23 cosponsor Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau). “Currently, we rely on patchwork solutions with the state and municipalities covering survivors’ health premiums on an ad hoc basis. Both the House and Senate recognized the need for a real fix that is predictable and long-lasting, and reflects a genuine policy of care.”

House Bill 23 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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