Governor Hogan announces legislation to expand state benefits for firefighters
MARYLAND – Firefighters put their life on the line to protect us.
But while those firefighters are risking their lives for us, Governor Larry Hogan has introduced legislation to make sure they have something to protect them.
Governor Hogan introduced Workers’ Compensation Medical Presumptions, which would add kidney or renal cell cancer and urinary cancer to the workers’ compensation laws.
A PRMC Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Lawrence Shombert says, “So they’re getting these particulates and chemicals so asbestos from a burning building can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, the organic chemicals can cause leukemia and also associated with bladder and renal cancers.”
Worcester county Firefighters Union Melissa Bragg tells us, “Fires today are more dangerous because we have so much more fuel load in a home and so many more things that we don’t know about.” Plus, the firefighting foam, a tool they use has also been linked to these diseases.
But besides including this into their workers comp, Governor Hogan also introduced the Hometown Heroes Act of 2019.
It will exempt retired law enforcement, fire, rescue, or emergency response from a state tax on all retirement income.
“First responders receive $15,000 tax credit in their taxes each year, but he is proposing to get us to 100% so that our pensions won’t be taxed,” Bragg tells us.
Firefighters hope that these proposed bills will light a fire under the General Assembly to move forward with these plans. “If you take care of your first responders, they are the ones who come to help those in the community, friends family loved ones and they are there for them on their worst day, so be with us every day,” Bragg adds.
These are proposed bills and they have yet to be passed. If everything runs smoothly, the workers compensation bill would go into effect in October. As for the Hometown Heroes Act, that would go into effect in July.