FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From the Presidents of: Norfolk Professional Firefighters Association, Portsmouth Professional Firefighters Association, Suffolk Professional Firefighters Association, York County-Poquoson-Williamsburg-James City County Professional Firefighters Association, Newport News Professional Firefighters Association, Hampton Professional Firefighters Association
SUBECT: FIREFIGHTER CANCER BILL, HB1804/SB1030
On January 31st, the House of Delegates Appropriations Sub-Committee on Compensation & Retirement had before it two bills. The first was HB1804 (Del. Hugo) which had passed the House Commerce and Labor Committee unopposed and was referred to Appropriations. The second bill was SB1030 (Sen. Cosgrove). Both bills had identical language and were twin bills. SB1030 passed the Senate 39-1.
What firefighters and their families witnessed in a small 7 member sub-committee was a single Delegate place a bill into a study without a vote taking place.
Del. Chris Jones (Suffolk) who is the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee took it upon himself to completely disregard the will and vote of the Virginia Senate. Citizens from across the Commonwealth made their feeling known from the time he pulled this cowardly move until Friday February 1, 2019. Del. Jones allowed HB1804/SB1030 to be heard with a few hours’ notice, and wanted to make a deal on the bill that already passed the Senate 39-1.
The Professional Firefighter Associations representing thousands of firefighters, paramedics, and E-911 dispatchers in the Hampton Roads area feel that Del. Jones turned his back on Virginias First Responders.
While he seems willing to make a deal, we are still in a stalemate. We support the bill as it was introduced and passed in the Senate.
While, the addition of Brain, Colon, and Testicular cancer is a step in the right direction, the legal loophole that is allowing Workers Comp to deny these illnesses still remains.
The bill that was passed through the Senate would add the three new cancers and correct the legal language loophole that firefighters have to fight with when they are fighting for their life.