KAFC Legislative Update

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KAFC Legislative Update Final Update 2021

For those that follow state politics, the 2021 legislative session could be rated a success for the Kentucky Fire Service. Expectations were not high going into the session due to it being a short session year and the unusual fact that a budget needed to be approved. Thanks to COVID-19 participation in the legislative process, like so many other things, went virtual. Individuals who are in the fire service are generally pretty adaptable, so the Virtual curve was embraced and overcome. Much of this year’s legislative successes can be attributed to the networking that exists within our association. Several bills this year were impacted by our ability to reach out to specific areas in the state to get local Fire Chiefs to talk to their legislators to either help push or stop a bill. We have learned over the years that one thing is certain and that is the fact that our state senators and representatives will listen to their Fire Chiefs and firefighters.

Our members and other partners in the fire service were successful in altering or getting the following bills passed through both chambers in the 2021 session:

HB 44 – “Firefighter PTSD Bill” – This bill appropriates $1.25 million each year for the treatment of full-time and volunteer firefighters affected by post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This program will be administered through the Kentucky Fire Commission.

HB 87 – Kentucky Retirement System benefit calculation modification relative to spiking

HB 120 – Consolidated Emergency Services District – Creation of “KRS Chapter 75A” Emergency Services District. This is an optional “tool in the toolbox” for similar or dissimilar type fire or EMS services to merge and form as a new type consolidated “Emergency Services District.” This new consolidated district is organized similar to current Chapter 75 Fire Districts, and has the ability to tax at a rate which is higher than current tax caps.

HB 155 – An ACT relating to abandoned infants – allows the use of “newborn safety device” related to the anonymous surrendering of a newborn infant in the Commonwealth at a participating staffed police station, staffed fire station, or a staffed hospital.

HB 261 – An ACT relating to fraud against the Kentucky Public Pensions Authority. Amend KRS 61.685 to make a person liable for civil penalties if he or she knowingly submits false or fraudulent claims or fails to report or remit required money, records, or property to the Kentucky Public Pensions Authority (KPPA) in order to obtain retirement benefits from any of the retirement systems administered by the KPPA.

SB 48 – Amend KRS 61.870 to define “public officer”; amend KRS 61.878 to exempt records that would reveal the address or location of a public officer under certain conditions.

SB 169 – An ACT relating to duty-related disability benefits. Senate Bill 169 will give first responders injured in the line of duty access to more disability benefits. Line of duty or duty-related disability benefits payable to a member of any of the systems administered by the Kentucky Retirement Systems will increase from 25% to 75% of the member’s monthly average pay.

As the 2021 Legislative Session ends we close this most recent chapter of working with our legislators on protecting whatever may be in the best interest for our Kentucky Fire Service. The cycle will once again ramp up before you know it. The KAFC stands ready over the interim to assist legislators and prepare for the 2022 session which is scheduled to begin on January 4, 2022.

If you have any questions or suggestions relating to legislative issues, please reach out to me or anyone of the KAFC Legislative Committee members listed below.
David W. Howser
KAFC Legislative Agent
dhowser@stmatthewsfd.com

2021 KAFC Legislative Committee

Committee Chair – KAFC Legislative Agent, David Howser – St. Matthews Fire/EMS
KAFC President, Jason Colson – Bowling Green Fire Department
Wayne Briscoe – Frankfort Fire/EMS
Michael Brown – Prestonsburg Fire Department
Steve Futrell – Hopkinsville Fire/EMS
Steve Kyle – Paducah Fire Department
Rick Millikan – Morganfield Fire Department
Nathan Mulvey – Fern Creek Fire/EMS
Cathy Rigney – Winchester Fire/EMS
Rob Rothenburger – Shelbyville Fire Department