Schmidt’s bill providing health benefits for families of fallen officers sees action

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would guarantee health care benefits for the surviving spouse and dependents of officers who die in the line of duty was approved by the state House Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Under Senate Bill 218, spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters, rescue squad members, or ambulance crew members who lose their lives as a result of their duties on the job would be provided health care coverage comparable to those of retired state police officers.

As passed by the committee on Thursday, the bill was amended to allow the spouses and dependents to receive benefits for a maximum of five years, and money to provide for the benefits would need to be appropriated by the Legislature annually.

“Public safety officials willingly put their lives on the line for us each day,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, the bill sponsor. “They each know they may one day not come home, and the debt we owe to our fallen officers cannot be fully repaid.

“We can, however, do something to support their families, and providing health care coverage to the spouses and children of officers who die in the line of duty is a small token of our appreciation to help those who paid so dearly. I encourage my colleagues in the House of Representatives to act quickly to approve this bill.”

The state Department of Technology, Management, and Budget’s Office of Retirement Services would be responsible for determining and administering the health plans.

SB 218, which was unanimously approved by the Senate in April 2015, now advances to the full House for consideration.