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September 15, 2019
Legislative Update
Posted On: Apr 17, 2019
Legislative update: Brothers and Sisters: Not much has changed on our issues since my last legislative update, but I wanted to make sure you know where we are at on our three main issues we started lobbying for at the beginning of the session this year. Increase Fire Fighter Training Pay After speaking with the governor's policy team early in the session we were successful in getting Governor Lee to include in his budget a $200 increase in the training pay supplement. The increase passed the House and Senate and was sent to the Governor on April 9th for his signature. The Training Pay which amounts to $800 will become law July 1, 2019. PTSD Presumption for Fire Fighters This issue is one that we knew would likely take multiple sessions to pass. We have been educating the legislators on the need to pass this legislation to help prevent the number of suicides within the fire service. As mentioned in an earlier update our bill needs to get a positive recommendation from the the Workers Comp Advisory Committee so we will be lobbying those members. The other obstacle in passing this legislation is the astronomical fiscal note assigned to it. As usual the Risk Pool has fed inflated numbers to fiscal review in a effort to kill the bill and they were successful in getting a reoccurring note of over 17 million dollars attached to the bill. Obviously, we will be working to lower that number to a realistic amount. Cancer Presumption for Fire Fighters We have been working feverishly on our Cancer Presumption legislation again this year. Our bill is a comprehensive bill that would cover ten cancers. We have been in constant negotiations with fiscal review to lower our fiscal note without much success. As you know there is another bill introduced by the Fire Services Coalition, which is heavily influenced by the Risk Pool, that covers four cancers and has a lower fiscal note. I told everyone at the Legislative Conference that we worked extensively to try to improve that bill as much as we could because it has support and could possibly pass. After our bill with ten cancers had it's fiscal note assigned the legislators, as expected, started to look at the FSC bill because of the lower fiscal note as an avenue to help fire fighters. It finally came to the point this week, with committees closing, that we saw that our bill was not going to move this year. We were left with the two options of our our bill not passing and without our help the other bill would die. I do not like the FSC legislation, but I believe it is better to get something in the State Code recognizing cancer as an on the job injury for fire fighters and build on it than to hold out and get nothing. After weighing the options I made the decision to do what we could to insure the passage of the FSC cancer bill. I instructed our lobbyist to make sure that the legislators understand that we believe this is a weak bill that does not come anywhere close to the protections needed for Tennessee Fire Fighters and that we will be back next year and the following years until we get the coverage our fire fighters need and deserve. I also asked our lobbyist to have our bill sponsors make a statement on the record to that effect, when they took our bill off notice for the year. This is the link to the video of Senator Bell making that statement to the committee. I have attached a copy of the amended Fire Services Coalition bill (SB1442 by Baily / HB0316 by Hicks) for your review and I expect to send you further information and alerts on this cancer bill in the coming days. Fraternally, -- Eddie Mitchell, President Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association 615-849-5416 Twitter: @tpffa1 TPFFA APP available for Apple and Android
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