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Introduced Version House Bill 2438 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted

FISCAL NOTEWEST virginia legislature

2019 regular session

Introduced

House Bill 2438

By Delegate Hartman and Harshbarger

[Introduced January 15, 2019; Referred
to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources then Finance.]

A BILL to amend and reenact §5H-1-1, §5H-1-2, and §5H-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931 as amended, all relating generally to survivor benefits for emergency response providers; changing the name of the West Virginia Fire and EMS Survivor Benefit Act to the “West Virginia Emergency Responders Survivor Benefit Act”; making Division of Forestry personnel who die as a proximate result of their participation in wildland fire fighting, emergency response, or disaster response operations eligible for survivor benefits; defining terms; making technical changes; and reorganizing language in the act for clarity.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


ARTICLE 1. WEST VIRGINIA FIRE AND EMS EMERGENCY RESPONDERS SURVIVOR BENEFIT ACT.


§5H-1-1. Title and legislative intent.

(a) This article is known as the “West Virginia Fire, EMS and Law-Enforcement Officer Survivor Benefit West Virginia Emergency Responders Survivor Benefit Act.”

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to provide for the payment of death benefits to the surviving spouse, designated beneficiary, children or parents of firefighters, EMS personnel, and law-enforcement personnel, and Division of Forestry personnel killed in the performance of their emergency response duties.

§5H-1-2. Death benefit for survivors.


(a) In the event a firefighter, EMS, or law-enforcement provider dies as a proximate result of the performance of, his or her duties, the department chief, within 30 days from the date of death shall submit certification of the death to the Governor’s Office.

(b) This act includes both paid and volunteer fire, EMS, and law-enforcement personnel acting in the performance of his or her duties of any fire, EMS, or law-enforcement department certified by the State of West Virginia.

(c) A firefighter, EMS, or law-enforcement provider is considered to be acting in the performance of his or her duties for the purposes of this act when he or she is participating in any role of a fire, EMS, or law-enforcement department function. This includes training, administration meetings, fire, EMS, or law-enforcement incidents, service calls, apparatus, equipment or station maintenance, fundraisers, and travel to or from such functions.

(d) Travel includes riding upon or in any apparatus or vehicle which is owned or used by the fire, EMS, or law-enforcement department, or any other vehicle going to or directly returning from a firefighter’s home, place of business, or other place where he or she shall have been prior to participating in a fire, EMS, or law-enforcement department function, or upon the authorization of the chief of the department, agency head, or other person in charge

(a) Terms.-- For the purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) “Emergency responder” means a paid or volunteer firefighter, EMS personnel, law-enforcement agency personnel, or Division of Forestry personnel.

(2) “Emergency response duties” means:

(A) For a firefighter, EMS provider, or law-enforcement personnel, participation in any role of a fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement department function, including, but not limited to, training functions; administrative meetings; fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement incidents or service calls; apparatus, equipment, or station maintenance; and fundraisers, including travel to or from such functions; and

(B) For a Division of Forestry employee, participation in Division of Forestry wildland fire fighting, emergency, or disaster response operations, including, but not limited to, travel to and from the locations of wildland fires, emergencies, or disasters.

(3) “Law-enforcement agency” means any duly authorized state, county, or municipal organization employing one or more persons whose responsibility is the enforcement of laws of the state or any county or municipality thereof: Provided, That neither the Public Service Commission nor any state institution of higher education nor any resort area district is a law-enforcement agency.

(4) “Travel” includes riding upon or in any apparatus or vehicle which is owned or used by the fire department, EMS agency, law-enforcement department, or the Division of Forestry, or any other vehicle going to or directly returning from an emergency responder’s home, place of business, or other place where he or she shall have been prior to participating in a fire department function, EMS agency function, law-enforcement department function, or a Division of Forestry wildland fire fighting operation, or upon the authorization of the chief of the department, agency head, or other person in charge.

(b) An emergency responder who dies as a proximate result of the performance of, his or her emergency response duties is eligible for the survivor benefits established by this act.

(e) (c) Within 30 days after the death of an eligible emergency responder, the department or agency head, shall submit certification of the death to the Governor’s Office. Certification of the death shall include the name of the certified fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement program agency, or Division of Forestry program, the name of the deceased firefighter, EMS, or law-enforcement provider emergency responder, the name or names and address of the beneficiary or beneficiaries, any documentation designating a beneficiary or beneficiaries, and setting forth a description of the circumstances that qualify the deceased individual for death survivor benefits under this act.

(d) Upon receipt of the certification of the death from the certified fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement program agency, or Division of Forestry program, the state shall, from moneys from the State Treasury, General Fund, pay to the certified fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement program department the sum of $100,000 in the name of the beneficiary or beneficiaries of the emergency responder eligible for the death benefit. Within five days of receipt of this sum from the state, the fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement program department certified by the state shall pay the sum as a benefit to the surviving designated beneficiary or beneficiaries. Within five days of receipt of this sum from the state, the fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement program department certified by the state shall pay the sum as a benefit to the surviving designated beneficiary or beneficiaries. If there is no surviving designated beneficiary, then the sum shall be paid as if the decedent had designated as beneficiaries those persons who are entitled to inherit the decedent’s intestate estate, in the proportions established by §42-1-3 and §42-1-3a of this code. It is the responsibility of the certified fire department, EMS agency, or law-enforcement program department to document the beneficiary or beneficiaries above mentioned for purposes of reporting to the Governor’s Office.

(f) (e) Any death ruled by a physician to be a result of an injury sustained during any of the above mentioned performance of fire department, EMS, or law-enforcement duties during performance of emergency response duties will be makes a deceased emergency responder eligible for this benefit, even if this death occurs at a later time regardless of when the death occurs.

(g) (f) Those individuals who are covered by this article are eligible The death of an eligible emergency responder qualifies his or her beneficiaries for only one state death benefit, paid pursuant to the provisions of this section, regardless of the amount.

(h) (g) Every department or agency head employing persons to which this article applies shall provide notice of the benefit provided hereby to such employees and encourage covered employees to provide a written designation of beneficiary to be maintained in the employee’s personnel file.

(i) (h) Any person making application for certification as a firefighter to which this section applies A person applying to the State Fire Marshal for certification as a firefighter shall provide a written designation of beneficiary using forms and procedures prescribed by the State Fire Marshal.

(i) Any A person making application applying to the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health for emergency medical services personnel certification to which this section applies shall provide a written designation of beneficiary using forms and procedures prescribed by the commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.

(j) The operation of the amendments to this section enacted during the 2018 Regular Session and 2018 First Extraordinary Session of the Legislature shall be effective retroactively to January 1, 2018.

§5H-1-3. Effective date.


(a) The effective date for this act is January 1, 2007. The operation of the amendments to this article enacted during the year 2012 shall be effective retroactively to January 1, 2012.

(b) The operation of the amendments to this article enacted during the 2018 First Extraordinary Session of the Legislature shall be effective retroactively to January 1, 2018.

 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to include Division of Forestry employees eligible for survivor benefits as other first responders if they are killed while engaging in wildland fire fighting. This an Interim Committee bill recommended for introduction and passage by the Forest Management Review Commission.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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