From Tim Bradley, NCSFA Executive Director
May 16, 2017
Cross over deadline has passed and both the Senate and the House are working bills that have crossed over, local, finance, and appropriation bills that are still eligible, but the last two weeks have been somewhat quiet on our bills.
Legislative Day was a huge success. We had around 200 uniformed firefighters and Chief Officers and made quite an impression. Although it was a quiet week, those who got to see their representatives got to spend some quality time. Thanks again to the NC Association of Fire Chiefs for sponsoring lunch.
Many of our bills are still eligible and our priorities remain the same. Even if a bill did not make cross over to the other Chamber, the language still can be added to an eligible bill in a committee, and any bill with financing or appropriation approval is still eligible, regardless of crossover.
Here is a summary of where we are on our priorities. Please continue to speak with your legislators about these.
A complete listing of State and Local Bills follows below the summary.
Priority #1: Support House Bill 340 Special Separation Allowance for Firefighters. This is a eligible bill.
This bill allows firefighters in the State and Local Government Retirement System to retire at age 50 with 30 years’ experience and provides a supplement until they reach the age they are eligible for unreduced social security benefits. Law enforcement officers have had this benefit since the 1980’s. Firefighting is an extremely physical job, and after 30 years it becomes more and more difficult. The supplement allows a firefighter to afford retirement until they receive social security benefits. Provisions of this bill are also included in SB 396. It has passed the House and is in the Senate.
Priority #2: Support House Bill 190 Local Firefighter Relief Fund Eligibility
This bill reduces the number of years a firefighter must serve before he/she is eligible for relief fund benefits and simplifies the relief fund reporting by allowing the Chief to submit their report at the same time they submit their pension rosters to the State Association. Provisions of this bill are also included in HB 101, HB 181, SB 102, and SB 216. It has passed the House and is in the Senate. This is an eligible bill.
Priority #3: Support HB 355 Firefighters’ Death Benefits/Cancer
This bill adds 6 types of cancer to the 3 existing in the Line of Duty Death Benefit Act for Firefighters. The existing Act provides $50,000 to any firefighter who dies in the line of duty. The fiscal impact of this bill is minimal compared to the benefit it provides families of firefighters who die from cancers they contracted on the job. Provisions of this bill are also included in SB 356. Since this bill involves appropriations it is still an eligible bill.
Priority #4: Support HB 189 Search and Rescue Name and Funding
This bill changes the name of collapse rescue teams and provides funding for these teams so that they can provide specialized rescue to the entire state, not just their jurisdictions, particularly the rural area. They are typically located in larger urban areas, but provide response to all areas of the State that lacks these rescue capabilities, especially during natural disasters. Provisions of this bill are also included in HB 740, SB 222. It is currently in House Appropriations. It did not get included in the Senate version of the budget, but is still eligible to be included in the House version.
Priority #5: Oppose SB 590 and HB 873 NC Consumer Fireworks Safety Act
The fire service opposes any increase in the size, use and availability of fireworks in NC. There are six areas of concern that can be provided, but the lack of instructions on the larger fireworks, their explosive capabilities, and their expanded use are huge concerns for the fire service in terms of injury, wildland fires, and structure fires. These two bills did not make crossover, but we are cautious because they can still be added to an eligible bill.
Priority # 6: Support HB 325 Amend Arson Law/Prosecutor Funds
This bill increases the penalty for Arson, particularly during other crimes or when an emergency responder is injured, and provides funding for a special prosecutor with the Conference of District Attorneys to serve as a resource on Arson Cases. It also clarifies the authority of the Office of State Fire Marshal to investigate fires. It has passed the House and is in the Senate and is still eligible.
The NCSFA and NCAFC’s also supports the following bills:
HB 2 Property Tax Exemption for Spouses of FF’s Killed in the Line of Duty (Eligible)
HB 98 Criminal Offense to Vandalize or Damage Emergency Equipment (Eligible)
HB 181 First Responder Act of 2017 (Eligible)
HB 666 Revise Volunteer Fire Department Requirements (Eligible)
CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW to download a report that includes all legislation that has been introduced at the Federal and State Level that the Legislative Committee of the NCSFA/NCAFC's is tracking during the long session. It includes the bill number and a brief description of the bill under the comments section. You can access the legislation by clicking on the Bill number (HB XX) on the left and it will take you directly to the legislative site specific to the bill, including history, sponsors, and action. Once there you can click on the title and read the full text of the bill.
Thanks so much for your ongoing support!