Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act

AG Wilson, Coalition of AG Encourage Congress To Pass Act

Emily Gill
May 21, 2020 - 2:33 pm
SC Statehouse

Released by the SC Attorney General's Office.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is joining a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general urging Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act.

The Act would permit the families of first responders, who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19, to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders, or their survivors, otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty.

Sadly, several South Carolina law enforcement officers have already succumbed to the novel coronavirus.

Current federal law would only allow survivors access to certain benefits if evidence is provided proving the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty.

“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day while serving all of us. We owe it to them and their families to treat this pandemic the same way we treat every other danger they face,” Attorney General Wilson said.

In a letter sent to Congress today, Attorney General Wilson and 51 other state and territory attorneys general urged quick passage of the SAFR Act.

The letter states, in part, “When public safety officers are called to respond, they do not know whether they are coming into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19. We have seen harrowing stories about how public safety officers have taken heroic actions to save the lives of others, knowing that they risked infection in doing so.”

To read the entire letter, click here.

The SAFR Act would establish a temporary presumption that officers contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of a first responder’s last shift.

The legislation ensures families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits already promised under existing federal law.

This legislation is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. It recently passed the United States Senate and is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.

To read the Act, click here.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine co-sponsored the letter. The attorneys general joining the call to action include: Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

 

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