Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) recently introduced legislation to ensure families of first responders receive line-of-duty death benefits in the event their loved ones die as a result of COVID-19.
“First responders who die as the result of COVID-19 deserve the same benefits of those who die during any other line-of-duty incident,” Ecker said. “We continually ask first responders to put their lives on the line and this, at times, unfortunately means they give their lives saving others. It is only right that their families be taken care of.”
Specifically, Ecker’s House Bill 2698 would amend the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act to include a presumption that the first responder contracted the disease during the course of their regular duties.
As it stands now, if a first responder dies in the line of duty, their surviving family members are eligible for benefits. Should the death be due to COVID-19, families are still eligible for this benefit, however they must prove the virus was contracted while performing official duties.
“This is an undue burden on families already grieving the loss of a loved one,” Ecker said. “My legislation puts the burden on the state, providing relief for families in their times of mourning.”
Furthermore, federal death benefits already presume the first responder contracted it while on duty. Ecker’s bill would mirror federal regulations.
The bill has been assigned to the House Labor and Industry Committee.