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Bauer attempt to defend state benefits for fallen first responders rejected by Republicans

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Today, Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) attempted to exempt the Hero's Honor Line-of-Duty Special Death Benefit from House Bill 1008, a radical pension management experiment. HB 1008 would strong-arm the Indiana Public Retirement System's investment managers into favoring certain failing industries while excluding investments that take long-term viability and returns into account.

Bauer's amendment would have removed the Line-of-Duty Special Death Benefit fund from management under these unprecedented and untested investment management directives. This benefit is awarded to the grieving family of a public safety officer who dies as a direct result of personal injury or illness resulting from the performance of duties under a contract entered into with their employer to provide the community with emergency services. Republicans rejected her amendment by a vote of 66-28.   

“Just last week, I stood at this podium, sharing the stories of firefighters who had fallen in the line of duty as a direct result of performing the duties of their job,” Bauer told the House of Representatives. “I shared with you, the story of a father of three who only after becoming eligible for pension, retired from the fire service, and only after becoming eligible for a comprehensive cancer screening died — just two weeks after receiving a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

“I earned your vote then, in an attempt to try to reverse this trend we are seeing among the fire service. Which leaves grieving families and children behind. Now, with the passage of House Bill 1008, you are playing with the benefits that are rightfully due to their children. The benefits that Josh Comeau, Captain Koehler, and Mike Brown had lined up for their family — just in case.

“We will be putting this benefit at risk for all first responders – police, emergency medical service staff, county and deputy coroners – and their loved ones. How do we say, 'Sure, we will continue to etch the names of their loved ones into stone each year at the fallen officer memorial, but we will not protect a hero’s death benefit.'

“You tell that to the grieving family. The child who has to grow up without a parent. Who won’t get their dad to walk them down the aisle when they get married. The surviving spouse. The grieving parents. Who is — in their eyes, still their hero even in their death.”

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