Public Safety PTSD Bill to Be Heard in Key House Committee

March 7, 2022

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The bill would implement some of the League’s legislative priorities for addressing trends related to public safety duty disability claims.

A bill scheduled for a hearing on March 8 in the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee 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.

The bill will be taken up during an evening hearing, and the League will provide testimony in support. A Senate companion bill is expected to be introduced soon.

The bill’s provisions

Key provisions in the bill include that it:

  • Requires treatment for PTSD before an employee can file for a duty disability and/or workers’ compensation.
  • Modifies benefits for people who recover partially or totally from a PTSD injury.
  • Fully reimburses employers for the cost of a continued health insurance benefit for disabled employees or dependents of those killed in the line of duty if the employer has implemented mental injury prevention measures.
  • Requires learning objectives and preservice training that “prepare peace officers for the stressful and traumatic events that are common to policing and teach officers methods to process and cope with the stress and trauma inherent to policing.”

Your help needed

The League is encouraging city officials to urge legislative support for the bill. The League is also assembling an advocacy toolkit for members to use when advocating on this legislation.

Background

In recent years, the number of public safety employees seeking duty disability determinations through the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and making workers’ compensation claims for line-of-duty injuries has accelerated. This is particularly true in the wake of a 2019 legislative change that made PTSD a presumptive condition for workers’ compensation purposes.

According to PERA, in 2019, there were 118 public safety duty disability applications. 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.

Cities are very concerned about the human and financial tolls related to these trends. Cities are concerned that injured employees are not getting the treatment they need to stay on the job or return to work after an injury, and many communities are experiencing recruitment and retention challenges. The benefits paid to disabled employees, including continued health insurance until age 65, are straining local budgets.

Given these concerns, the League and cities across Minnesota have invested resources into mental and physical injury education, prevention, and treatment. The League is looking to the Legislature to help make the state a stronger partner in these efforts.

Additional information

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