Brothers and Sisters,
This week we held our 31st annual convention and it was one of our best yet from a legislative perspective. I believe attendance for the convention was at an all time high and the attendance for the day on the hill was clearly one of our best ever. Besides that, it was one of the best in regard to our members engaging legislators. Every year I see a better effort by our members at approaching legislators, articulating our messages, and representing our organization in a positive light.
I am very proud of all of you that participated. You should be proud of yourselves too. The work you do on this day and the work you do in your home districts with legislators has made a real difference in advancing our legislative agenda. Your conduct at the Capitol spoke to what a professional organization we are. Thank you. I also want to thank sister Baron for her hard work at putting together the pamphlets on presumptive illness for us. This literature was an incredibly professional and informative tool for us. Great work, Wendy!
I feel confident to say that the collective bargaining bill is dead for the year. Senator McKenzie has no desire to hear the bill and is not getting pressure from any direction. Congratulations and thank you again for your important work that helped make this happen.
Regarding presumptive illness legislation - on Thursday morning I received a message from the insurance lobby with a proposed compromise on the bill. The compromise makes a minor tweak to the standard of proof for the employer or surety, but still maintains the presumption for the claimant (the firefighter). Our attorney feels like this does not compromise what we are trying to do at all. Having agreed upon this compromise, we essentially eliminated any real opposition to the legislation.
We had our committee hearing on Friday and there was no testimony against us. The hearing went very well. We had a doctor from Johns Hopkins testify to the medical research which demonstrates the relationship between firefighting and certain cancers. This was very compelling and made strong impression on the committee members. Another key presenter was Travis Woolford from Boise Local 149, a survivor of esophageal cancer who has returned to the line after a tough fight with the disease. Travis did an incredible job and clearly put a human face on this issue. Thanks Travis! Also testifying were Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan, our attorney Dick Owen, Dr. Paul Collins, and myself.
Since we had agreed to an amendment to the printed bill, the committee voted to send it to the amending order instead of voting directly on the bill itself. Normally, this would not be the best route to take as it complicates the process for our legislation, but we feel confident that it will delay us no more than one day and the amendments will go through as proposed. The amendment for the bill will be considered by the entire Senate on Monday and the bill in its entirety will be considered on Wednesday or Thursday. We have a lot of Senators to reach before then, but we feel good about our chances.
Please contact me with any questions or comments.
Professional Firefighters of Idaho
Executive Vice President