Thursday, August 27, 2009

Killed in Duty Death Benefits

A state senator is pushing a bill that would provide uniform benefits throughout the Commonwealth to public safety workers killed in the line of duty. Senator Sean Logan, a Democrat representing Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, says the current system has inequalities because each municipality has its own death benefit plan. Some municipalities don't provide anything.

"If you get killed in Pittsburgh, or if you get killed in Scranton or Erie or in Monroeville, the benefit to your spouse or children should be the same," he says.

Senate Bill 369 applies to paid firefighters, law enforcement officers and ambulance service or rescue squad members. If killed in the line of duty, this bill would give the amount of the worker's monthly salary to the recipient. Money that isn't covered by workers compensation the state would absorb.

Although Logan says he would like to, benefits cannot be provided retroactively because it is considered unconstitutional. Therefore, families of the three Pittsburgh Police officers killed in Stanton Heights in April would not have these benefits, if this bill passes in the State House.

The bill passed in the State Senate last year, but died in State House at the end of the session. It recently passed unanimously in Senate, and is going to House to be voted on.

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