Benefits for Families of Fallen Officers Scheduled for Senate, Assembly Votes

The Senate plans to vote on Tuesday, Oct. 8, on legislation (SB 266/AB 300) which would require any government entity and Marquette University to provide health insurance benefits to the widowed spouse and/or children after a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. The Assembly has also scheduled a vote on the bill for their Oct. 10 floor session.

Some form of the bill has been introduced in the past three legislative sessions. Authored by Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield), the bipartisan bill has 91 cosponsors. Currently, health insurance benefits are extended to families of firefighters and full-time public EMS providers, but not law enforcement.

A joint public hearing was held on Sept. 17 in the Senate Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety and the Assembly Committee on Insurance. In addition to numerous law enforcement, several widows of fallen officers provided the committees impactful testimony describing reasons health benefits should be extended to grieving families.

The bill passed out of both committees unanimously after the committee amended the bill to modify the funding sources to shared revenue, retroactively apply the benefit to Jan. 1, 2019, and extend the benefit to other positions in protective service.