Brothers and Sisters,
As we come to the start of a new month at the Idaho Legislature, I wanted to send you all a quick update. First of all, last Friday we had our first hearing on our Cancer Bill. We passed the first test. We hope to have our next hearing sometime in the next two weeks. I have been working with the IAFF to get a Doctor from Johns Hopkins to testify at the next hearing. Shaun and Grant have been doing a lot of work lobbying this year and have been great to work with. Please see Senate Bill 1273. If you are on Facebook, I posted it to my page. Please repost so we can get people aware of the Bill. The Idaho Statesman and local news radio each did a small piece on it Friday.
With the increase in dues we voted for last year, we are able to fly Brother Speziale down to help us lobby our legislators from up north this week. We are really excited to have him this week. Troy has been setting up times to meet with legislators from the 1st district.
On a negative note, Representative Harris is continuing to drum up support for his Bill that will take away our ability to negotiate in Executive Session. The IEA gave this up last year and never really opposed it. With that being said, it has not been easy to fight it. We only got a Neutral stance from the Fire Chiefs at this point, but hope they will change to an Against. The cities are also lobbying with us to try and avoid turning our negotiations into a public show.
I also wanted to remind everyone to make sure your PAC reporting gets done. Shaun and his wife really helped me out by building a template for the PFFI PAC reporting. He saved me probably 20 hours of work. Thanks Brother!
Talking Points for Senate Bill 1273
- 37 studies used to compile this information
- Research complied by the IAFF, State of New Mexico and the country of Canada.
- PFFI has worked with the Industrial Commission and with a subcommittee (PFFI, Insurance, Private Sector, and Board members) for over a year to produce this language.
- The insurance companies are taking a neutral stance due to the efforts of both sides and drafting reasonable language.
- The Industrial Commission supported the PFFI to take this language to the Legislature.
- This legislation is supported by the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association, multiple cities and fire districts, and the PFFI. The insurance companies and the Idaho State Fire District Commissioners have taken a neutral stance.
- Very stringent requirements are in the legislation to meet the “Presumption” an example would be that the firefighter had an entry level physical and is not a tobacco user
- This study shows that firefighters are at an increased risk for certain diseases over the general public. Those diseases include certain cancers, heart and lung disease, and certain infectious disease. These studies indicate a statistical significance in the association between these diseases and the work of a firefighter.
- Unfortunately, when a firefighter submits a workers compensation claim for such an occupational disease, it is usually denied. To prove his or her case, the firefighter must be able to pinpoint the precise incident or exposure that caused the disease in order for it to be considered job-related. With the number of calls that professional firefighters respond to, that is nearly impossible. Additionally, these occupational, diseases are typically the result of repeated exposure over the course of years and not a single event.
- In the absence of presumptive legislation, the onus is on the worker to prove their illness is a result of their occupation. This legislation changes that. The claim is approved automatically if the appropriate criteria are met, unless the Physician deems that the illness is not the result of the firefighter’s occupation.
- This legislation presumption expires 10 years after employment ends. This is due to the latency period of some of these cancers and is the industry norm.
- In the end of the 2012 Session, the PFFI extended the opportunity to find legislation to cover volunteer firefighters. No drafts where brought forward. The PFFI still strives to eventually find a funding source to help volunteers get physicals and find acceptable language to include them in this legislation.
- There are currently around 1,200 professional firefighters in the State of Idaho.
- Over the last decade, the PFFI knows of 2 cases that would have met the requirements of is legislation. We are also aware of 4 that would have been denied.
- This legislation is also one of the most progressive using recent studies to protect women under the age of 40 without a breast cancer 1 or breast cancer 2 genetic predispositions.
- The question always arises as to “Why” firefighters should have this. The answer is simple. We encounter many exposures throughout our carriers. We have the ability to bring our evidence to the Industrial Commission and plead our case. All this Legislation does is shift the burden of evidence from the firefighter to the employer. It does not open up a flood gate of claims. If anything, it puts a strict guideline on what is and what is not an occupational disease. There is no handout! It is up to the employee to maintain a healthy lifestyle and if not, they risk their chance of a successful work comp claim if they get one of these Occupational Diseases.
- The Professional Firefighters of Idaho and the International Association of Firefighters are the first Union to try and become tobacco free. The PFFI has started a tobacco cessation program to help members kick the habit. We are hearing success stories from the awareness and education that we are providing to our members.