Police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters are a vital part of every Hoosier community. Currently, there are benefit plans for the families of these first responders killed in the line of duty. There is not, however, a plan set up for these brave public servants who are permanently disabled in the line of duty. I co-authored a bill this session that would address this issue.
House Bill 1617, which the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate have both passed, would expand the 1977 Police Officers’ and Firefighters Pension and Disability Fund and that of sheriff’s pension trusts to include lifetime disability benefits for those who are severely injured in the line of duty and can no longer work. Individuals who qualify for this severe disability compensation would receive a monthly salary equal to that of a first class patrolman or firefighter.
This bill would also ensure that a spouse or child of an injured police officer, deputy or firefighter would receive free tuition at any state college, university or technical school. We extend this benefit already to the orphans and widowed spouses of fallen first responders. The pursuit of a higher education should not be hindered due to the misfortunes that an officer encountered while working for their community.
The 1977 Fund was established to pay pension, disability and survivor benefits to eligible public safety officers and their survivors. The fund consists of member contributions (police and firefighters), employer contributions and earnings. Although the state takes great care of the families that have lost a public safety officer in the line of duty, the same cannot be said for individuals who are catastrophically injured and permanently injured in the line of duty.
The pension would cover all officers in Indiana who were catastrophically injured after July 1, 2008. It is my hope that this expansion to the pension and disability fund will display the respect that we have toward our Hoosier officers. These officers and firefighters that have given nearly everything to their community deserve to be supported for their sacrifice.
This session, I remain committed to advancing this bill on behalf of Hoosier police officers, deputies, firefighters and their families. After the House and Senate work out a few minor changes, the bill will go to Governor Holcomb and can be signed into law. As we continue our work during this year’s budget session, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or input at 317-232-9793 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h74.
State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74, which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
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