FAIRBANKS— Governor Bill Walker today signed legislation to ease the financial burden of families and dependents of peace officers and firefighters who make the ultimate sacrifice. House Bill 23 is the culmination of years of effort by advocates, loved ones, and community members—and provides continued health insurance coverage for the surviving dependents of those killed in the line of duty.
“Peace officers and firefighters put themselves on the line every day, and our state and communities grieve when their lives are lost in that service,” Governor Walker said. “The state has a moral responsibility to take care of the spouses and children of public safety officers who died while protecting us. I’m grateful to the legislature for passing this bill, and for the immeasurable efforts of survivors Nikki Toll, Angie Rich, Brandy Johnson, Natasha Brandt, and countless others who advocated for and supported this bill.”[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]HB 23 continues insurance coverage for families of those who die in the line of duty while serving Alaskans through the creation of a special fund financed through legislative appropriations, contributions from municipalities, and donations. The dependent survivors of state peace officers, law enforcement, correctional officers, parole and probation officers, and firefighters would be eligible for continued coverage; the legislation allows municipalities to opt-in to the fund. The bill is designed to ensure that the families and loved ones of those killed in the line of duty will have health insurance coverage for at least 10 years, or until they are eligible for such coverage through other means.
The need for this legislation was first brought to policymakers’ attention in 2013 and 2014 with the deaths of three state troopers and a police sergeant whose surviving family members highlighted their need for continuing health insurance coverage. Governor Walker signed the bill at the Trooper Gabriel Rich and Trooper Scott Johnson Memorial Park in Fairbanks with bill sponsor Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), companion bill sponsor Senator John Coghill (R-Fairbanks), and Representative Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage), who worked on similar legislation in previous years.
Source: State of Alaska [xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]