A bill that would require local municipalities to provide at least two years of benefits for the families of fallen police officers has passed the House unanimously.
House Bill 604, written by Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, now heads to the Senate. You can keep up with the bill’s progress by clicking here.
The bill was written to ensure the situation that occurred after Lafayette Police Cpl. Michael Middlebrook died in the line of duty. His widow had asked to continue to pay for his health insurance at the rate she was paying when he was alive, and the City of Lafayette initially refused. She was required to pay a higher rate or lose the coverage forever. Eventually, the City Parish Council voted to provide the benefits to his family at the rate he was paying. To read our stories about that situation, click here and here.
The bill requires the employer of any law enforcement officer who dies in the line of duty – or who dies off duty trying to protect life or property – to pay the benefits of the family for two years after his or her death. The bill would cover the spouse of the officer, as well as any children – including stepchildren – who are younger than 18 or younger than 23 and attending college. The benefits also would be paid for children who are physically or mentally disabled, regardless of their age, for two years following the officer’s death. The health insurance coverage for the children would last as long as the child meets the qualifications of the law.