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The measure, aimed at preventing and treating public safety PTSD injuries, was met with opposition from labor groups, a disabled individual, and a law firm.
The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee on March 8 heard and laid over a bill that would implement some of the League’s legislative priorities for addressing trends related to public safety duty disability claims.
The bill, HF 4026 (Rep. Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis), relates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and would implement measures aimed at prevention, treatment, and financial support for employees and employers.
League testifies in support of bill
League President D. Love, mayor of Centerville, and League Second Vice President Jenny Max, Nisswa city administrator, testified on behalf of the League in favor of the bill, along with Lino Lakes Public Safety Director John Swenson, who represented the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the Minnesota Sheriffs Association.
Proponents of the bill emphasized the need to prevent and treat PTSD injuries in order to keep more public safety employees from ending their careers prematurely. They also talked about the unsustainable financial toll current trends are posing.
According to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), there were 118 public safety duty disability applications in 2019. In 2020, there were 241 applications, and in 2021, there were 307. More than 80% of these applications were for PTSD, and 93% came from law enforcement employees. The average age of individuals seeking duty disability retirements is 42. Many of the employees who receive a PERA duty disability determination also seek workers’ compensation.
Opposition from employee stakeholders
The measure was met with opposition from labor groups, a disabled individual, and a law firm that represents first responders who apply for workers’ compensation and disability pensions.
Collectively, they criticized the current workers’ compensation system, raised issues about new and ongoing challenges facing public safety employees, and expressed concerns that the bill might make it more difficult for some employees to begin receiving benefits.
Bill laid over
Due to time constraints, the committee was not able to ask questions about the bill or discuss it. The chair laid the bill over for possible discussion at a future meeting. The bill’s author, Rep. Long, indicated he will reach out to stakeholders to look for compromise.
Read other articles about the bill:
- Session Daily article: Bill seeks to lower number of PTSD retirements among cops
- Minnesota Reformer article: Cities push for PTSD bill; cops, law firm say it wouldn’t help workers get help