Harris proposes better death benefits for public safety officers

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago) will pursue legislation to improve benefits for survivors of public safety officers who die in the line of duty, and expand the list of people who would be eligible for those benefits.

Members of the Interim Study Committee on Pension Management Oversight unanimously approved a proposal expanding the benefits during the group’s meeting yesterday. Harris said he will file a bill detailing the proposal for consideration during the 2020 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

“This bill would expand the definition of who would be eligible for benefits to include police and firefighters,” Harris said. “I’m proud that this proposal received unanimous bipartisan support.”

The proposed draft also seeks to increase special death benefits from $150,000 to $225,000.

For communities like East Chicago that are close to the Indiana-Illinois border, Harris said this improvement has the potential to encourage more public safety officers to stay in our state.

“Better death benefits for these brave men and women is just one way we can recruit the best of the best to answer our 911 calls,” he said. “It also shows an appreciation for the efforts of those who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities.”

Rep. Harris offered a similar proposal during the 2019 session, but the measure failed to get a committee hearing.

“It’s stressful to lose a loved one, but it’s even more stressful to lose someone from one of these career fields. We want to make sure the family is taken care of,” Harris concluded.

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