The Michigan Municipal League testified in opposition to House Bill 4729, as introduced, in the House Labor Committee yesterday. This bill is the same as SB 244, which the League opposed in April. The legislation amends the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act to allow certain part-time, on-call, and volunteer members of fire, police, and public safety departments (among other entities) to be eligible for worker’s compensation for respiratory and heart diseases.
The League understands the intent of the legislation, but the indeterminate cost that will subsequently be created for local units of government with no ability to plan for such expenses is concerning. The House Fiscal Agency in its own summary to the committee pointed this out regarding the fiscal impact on local units of government.
The League did propose amending the bill as introduced to include a provision that utilizes the Christopher R. Slezak First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund as a viable tool in the implementation of HB 4729. MML was a part of negotiations in the development of this fund, which was established to provide workers’ compensation wage loss and medical benefits to qualified first responders who have developed certain cancers. It is uniquely situated to address this expansion of coverage because it receives $2 million each from the Internet gaming fund and Internet sports betting fund for a total of $ 4 million annually. This money does not lapse at the end of the year. In our testimony, we pointed to the fact that claims thus far, and anticipated for the current year, have been less than half of the incoming funds available as stated in the 2022 FRPCF Annual Report.
Rep. Jim Haadsma, chair of the House Labor Committee, has not indicated whether the bill will be brought up for a vote prior to the legislature adjourning for the year within the next two weeks. League staff will continue to work with committee members on language that does not leave local governments on the hook for a state-mandated expansion to this coverage.
Dave Hodgkins is a legislative associate with the League. He may be reached at [email protected]