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Amended Bill Expanding Public Safety Death Benefits Still Poses New Costs on Public Employers

League Urges Cities to Send Opposition Letters to Senators on AB 2451

August 22, 2012

Amendments taken to AB 2451 (Pérez) on Monday do not adequately address concerns over the new costs this bill would impose on public employers at a time when public agencies can least afford them. Consequently, the League remains opposed. AB 2451 is on third Senate reading and may be heard this week.

 

This bill continues to provide an increased benefit for public safety employees at a time when public agencies can least afford them. Instead of eliminating the statute of limitations on death benefits, the bill now extends the current timeframe for cancer, tuberculosis, and MRSA from 240 weeks to 480 weeks. Essentially, the bill doubles the timeframe to file a death benefit claim for these specific presumptive injuries.

AB 2451 extends the statute of limitations for a presumptive death benefit claim filed on behalf of firefighters or peace officers at a fiscal consequence to public agencies. This bill would extend the statute of limitations from four and a half years to just over nine years on work-related death benefits for public safety employees who die of cancer, tuberculosis, or MRSA, which are presumed by law to be job-related. It is likely that employers would see an increase in cost for death benefits for injuries that may not be job related. Because these are presumptive injuries it would be nearly impossible for the employer to refute the claim.

At a time when all levels of governments are struggling to maintain public safety and other vital services, AB 2451 will further stress already tight budgets. It is unclear just how much the bill will increase public agencies’ costs with these new amendments, but by doubling the statute of limitations we are certain to see some kind of a cost increase. This bill erodes the original intent of the Workers’ Compensation Act and subsequent reforms to the system enacted in 2004 that were designed to provide fair and timely benefits to injured employees at a reasonable cost to employers. Public safety employees’ beneficiaries are already compensated in a fair and timely manner.

Take Action Now

City officials are urged to contact their senator immediately to express opposition on AB 2451. A sample letter can be found on the League's website by typing “AB 2451” into the search box.



 
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