IMPORTANT LEGISLATIVE UPDATE----------------The amended FOP PTSD bill creating a Legislative Task Force was heard in the Legislative Council Committee at noon today. The Task Force portion of our bill was approved by the Legislative Council on a 12 – 6 vote with the following legislators voting to kill this last remaining piece of our bill:
Representative Kevin Priola (R)
Representative Libby Szabo (R)
Senator Bill Cadman (R)
Senator Kevin Grantham (R)
Senator Scott Renfroe (R)
Senator Mark Scheffel (R)
The Task Force portion of the FOP’s Peace Officer PTSD Workers Comp Coverage bill will now proceed to the House Floor for consideration. If the bill clears the House, which could be as early as this coming Tuesday, it will be moved to the Senate. In the Senate it will be heard and voted on in one committee before going to the full Senate for a vote. If those remaining hurdle are cleared the bill creating the Task Force will go to the Governor for approval or veteo. (Please refer to previous bill update of 04-24-14 posted below).
April 24, 2014 Update ----We have both good news and bad news to report in regards to the Colorado FOP PTSD Workman's Comp Coverage for Peace Officers.
The FOP's bill had three sections: Section 1 would have made work related PTSD for a Peace Officer in Colorado a covered claim. In other words it recognized PTSD as a workplace injury and would provide a police officer who developed this illness with treatment and a path to recovery. Section 2 recognized that PTSD may result in the death of an officer by suicide. As such this section allowed the survivors of an officer with diagnosed PTSD, who as a direct result took his/her own life, the ability to receive a workers' comp death benefit if a panel reviewing the case determined the death was a direct result of the illness. Section 3 established a "Task Force" of various entities including two representatives of the Colorado FOP that would research work related peace officer PTSD and report its findings and recommendations to the Colorado Legislature for action concerning prevention, treatment, standardized psychological screening prior to employment, education of employers and employees about this illness, and any other area the Task Force deemed relevant.
The House Committee heard the arguements from the bill sponsors, Representative Jonathan Singer(D) and Representative Jared Wright (R), detailing the need for this legislation and the importance of getting this in place as soon as possible. After presenting the bill the committee, on a member motion decided to split the bill into two pieces for committee vote. That was approved by the Committee Chair and the Task Force section was severed from the bill into a seperate question for vote. That left two questions for the committee to decide. The first question was whether to pass Sections 1 & 2 (workers comp coverage and the death benefit). That was debated and the resulting vote was 3 yes and 8 no votes resulting in sections 1 & 2 being killed. The second question was the establishment of the Task Force (section 3). That passed unanimously 11 yes votes and no dissenting votes. So the bill moves forward and will in all likelihood become law enacting the task force.
We are disappointed that we could not get this done this year. But we do not view this as a loss. Eight weeks ago this was Law Enforcement's dirty little secret. Not one group, not one employer, not one government entity would admit this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The FOP put a bright light on this serious workplace issue. Not one police employee organization joined us in this battle for our profession. No other police union came on board or supported us in this effort. We watched as the Colorado Chiefs of Police Association testified against the bill and lobbied hard to kill it. The Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties did the same. And from the onset the Governor's office worked to kill the bill. We met three times with the Governor's staff and they told us straight out they would work to kill this bill. They did not want this bill on his desk. Well we plan on putting it there next year..
IMPORTANT UPDATE – This Wednesday, April 23rd immediately following the House Floor session (approx 11:00 AM) the Colorado FOP’s PTSD Workers’ Comp Coverage bill will be voted on in the House State Affairs Committee. There will be no testimony. We will be offering amendments to the original bill (see below).
On Wednesday, April 16th the House Local Government Committee convened at 1:30 PM today to vote on the FOP's Peace Officer Workers Comp bill. We had prepared a couple of amendments that were drafted to try and address the expressed concerns of certain committee members while not weakening the bill.
In addition we had an amendment prepared that created a legislative task force of key people including the Colorado FOP to examine in depth the broader aspects of this work related health issue in law enforcement to include research on prevention, treatment, and workforce education. The task force would report its findings and recommendations on best policies and pratices for employers to the 2015 legislature.
We had enough votes to move the amended bill out of committee. However, because of a procedural issue that is too lengthy to explain here we learned that we would be unable to introduce the amendments and that the original bill would have to be voted on. Without the amendments we were not certain the bill had enough votes to pass.
A last minute and seldom used legislative procedure saved the day and kept the bill alive. We were able to have the Local Government Committee vote to refer the bill to the State Affairs Committee for hearing and vote. As such it will now move to the State Affairs Committee where we will be able to introduce the amendments and with any luck move this matter to the entire House body for debate and vote. Bottom line is the bill is still alive and not quite on life support. We will keep you informed as this difficult process unfolds.