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Proposed bill aims to give first responders COVID-19 death benefits

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 4:19 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) - A Kentucky lawmaker is proposing a bill that would give benefits to families of first responders who died from COVID-19 exposures while on the job.

Rep. Thomas Huff, R-Shepherdsville, was inspired to write Bill Request 430 after the Zoneton Fire Protection District in Bullitt County lost its fire chief and its interim fire chief to COVID-19 related complications within two months of each other.

BR 430 would amend the current statute on death benefits to include COVID-19 on the list of illnesses that can qualify a deceased first responder’s family for death benefits.

The statute already defines first responders as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, correctional officers and active duty Kentucky National Guard members.

Any first responders who have died due to COVID-19 complications since March 6, 2020, would qualify.

According to Huff, when he pre-filed the bill on August 30, there had been 11 first responder deaths in Kentucky.

If the bill becomes law, families who qualify would receive $80,000.

Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, said he would like to see medical personnel who work in correctional facilities included in the bill.

“I think they’re first responders too,” Graham said. “That’s the thing I think many of us are concerned about. We don’t want to leave out anyone who are first responders.”

Lawmakers cannot take action on BR 430 until the 2022 legislative session, which begins January 4, 2022.

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