Brothers and Sisters,
We are at the 40th legislative day. For the average session this would be about the half way point. I have heard rumors that they are going to try to speed up the rest of the session and get out early. Again, this is good for collective bargaining but bad for presumptive illness.
On our presumptive legislation, we have been working the past two weeks to shore up our counter arguments to the attacks of our opposition. One of the critical pieces of this issue is cost. Our best defense is that the National Council on Compensation Insurance estimates that our legislation (should it pass) would require a 2.3 to 7.8% increase in work comp premiums. For most jurisdictions this is an insignificant amount. We are working on getting the support of the Association of Idaho Cities as well as the Idaho State Fire Commissioners Association. Still waiting on both.
We are charging ahead nonetheless as time is of the essence. On Monday we have our print hearing in Senate State Affairs. Usually print hearings aren’t too contentious, but you never know what’s going to happen. Keep your fingers crossed.
As mentioned, the short time frame makes collective bargaining look good. It hasn’t been a topic of discussion either in the media or at the Statehouse. I am feeling more and more confident every day.
There are also two other bills that we are watching. One would exempt elevators from having to be upgraded to meet code. The consequence of this is that elevators without fireman service could remain so until the end of time. For shorter buildings this isn’t a big deal since we probably wouldn’t be using them at a fire. As buildings get taller, however, this is an issue. It looks like the Fire Chiefs’ Association will be working on trying to amend this bill so that taller buildings would not be exempt.
The other bill we are watching would make it illegal to charge fees for emergency response to automobile accidents. Currently there are a number of departments that are charging fees. This has been a tool to recover some of the costs associated with these responses, specifically floor dry and its disposal. The chiefs are going to fight this one as well.
Convention is just a week away and I look forward to seeing you all again. Please contact me with any questions or comments.
Professional Firefighters of Idaho
Executive Vice President