The tragic slaying of 5 police officers in Dallas, TX Thursday evening has spurred a renewed effort to pass legislation in Alaska aimed at providing health insurance benefits to survivors of law enforcement officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.
Tom Wescott, President of the Alaska Professional FIre FIghters Association, confirmed this afternoon that members of the public safety community, including firefighters, police officers, and other first responders, are actively encouraging the Governor’s Office to add HB 4002 to his latest special session call. The Legislature is scheduled to begin meeting on that call Monday in Juneau.
According to HB 4002’s sponsor statement:
Currently, families of fallen officers and firefighters aren’t extended such benefits unless the Governor and Legislature make a choice to provide it to them each year. This bill would make such benefits permanent.
Governor Walker had included the bill in his first special session call last month. The House eventually passed the measure unanimously, 34-0 only to see the State Senate Majority Caucus refuse to take it up before leaving Juneau.
KTOO Public Media reported at the time:
“Senators in the majority caucus said the House gave them no time to review what it had done. And since the House left Juneau, the Senate wouldn’t have been able to make changes. So the Senate adjourned on Sunday without passing the bill.”
Wescott said his understanding is the Governor currently considering the move but hasn’t committed to anything at this point.
According to other sources familiar with the discussions, advocates of the bill have been told by the Governor’s office “Chances are greater than 50%” the Governor will add HB 4002 to the special session call.