HARRISBURG – This week, the Senate passed a package of bills supporting Fire & EMS personnel, according to Senator Mike Regan, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee.
House Bill 1838, approved unanimously by the Senate on Monday, would increase funding to the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund by approximately $11 million annually by increasing fines for moving violations and DUI convictions resulting in Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD). The legislation also requires a portion of the funding be dedicated to providing training for underserved areas.
“This legislation would give a needed infusion of funding to our EMS System,” said Sen. Regan. “Furthermore, this legislation would help fund the recently passed First Responder Mental Wellness and Stress Management Act, which is so helpful for our fire, EMS, and police with PTSI.”
House Bill 1673, passed by the Senate unanimously on Tuesday, aims to improve the delivery of state resources to the fire and EMS community in Pennsylvania. The legislation encompasses provisions from thirteen Fire & EMS-related measures introduced in the General Assembly this session covering areas related to the State Fire Commissioner, Fire and EMS Grants, the Fire Relief Program, the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program, and Volunteer First Responder Tax Credits.
“This bill makes comprehensive changes for our Fire & EMS community such as elevating the role of the State Fire Commissioner; placing the Fire Relief Program under the Fire Commissioner; reauthorizing the popular Fire & EMS Grant Program for four years; and permitting counties and school districts to establish property tax credits for our volunteer first responders,” said Sen. Regan. “All told, it is my belief that this is one of the most significant pieces, if not the most significant piece of Fire & EMS legislation that we have taken up in the General Assembly in my time.”
Senate Bill 94, approved unanimously on Wednesday, would ensure that Fire Police and other integral members of volunteer fire companies are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act in case of injury on the job.
“It is so important for all of our first responders and their families to know that we have their back if they are injured in the performance of their duties,” said Sen. Regan. “This legislation helps by providing that needed protection.”
Senate Bill 1281, also approved on Wednesday, would re-name the state’s ‘Steer Clear Law’ the ‘Move Over Law’ and increase the penalties when drivers do not move into another lane when an emergency responder or tow truck is responding to an emergency on the road.
“Each year, we needlessly lose the lives of first responders when they are struck down while trying to save someone else’s life or assist a motorist stranded on the side of the road,” said Sen. Regan. “As such, I wholeheartedly support this life-saving measure.”
Each of the bills is now headed to the Governor for his signature. Furthermore, HB 1838, HB 1673, SB 94 all originated from the 2018 Senate Resolution 6 Commission Report, which contained 92 recommendations to improve Fire & EMS services in Pennsylvania.
“During my career as a U.S. Marshal, I served alongside our volunteer first responders and have always had great respect for the critical role they play in our health care system,” said Sen. Regan. “As such, I am pleased to help serve the Fire & EMS community in my capacity as Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee.”
CONTACT: Nathan Silcox, 717-787-8524, firstname.lastname@example.org