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Fair Treatment for Tragic Loss – Bills Would Fill Gaps in Worker Protection

New bills aid injured peace officers and families of workers killed on the job

JUNEAU – Today, Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) introduced two bills to fill gaps in assistance to peace officers and other workers injured on the job and to give just compensation to families of workers who are killed.

Under House Bill 295 (HB295), peace officers and firefighters who are unable to work while recovering from job injuries will continue to earn credit and contributions toward their retirement.  

“Peace officers and firefighters deliberately put themselves at risk for the rest of us, and we have a special duty to take care of them when they are hurt,” said Josephson.  “They should not be penalized by delaying their retirement because they are recovering and unable to work.”

House Bill 294 (HB294) addresses an injustice that came to light when Abigail Caudle, a twenty-six year-old electrical worker, was killed on the job in 2011.  Because Caudle was unmarried and had no dependents, the workers’ compensation system paid only for her funeral expenses.  

“When I began working to improve the treatment of survivors of single workers, I learned about other injustices,” said Josephson.  “Teenagers may receive only a few months of financial assistance after their single parent dies, and compensation to workers for permanent injuries, such as loss of an arm, has not kept up with inflation. This legislation corrects those problems.”

Under Josephson’s proposal, when a worker dies without a spouse or minor children, relatives who depended on that worker for support or the worker’s estate will receive a respectful amount of compensation.  Children of single parents will continue to receive monthly benefits for five years after they become adults as defined by the law.  The legislation also increases and inflation-proofs compensation for permanent disability.

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