FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2009
Today the Texas Senate concurring with an amendment from the House of Representatives unanimously voted for Senate Bill 872 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. that ensures survivors of law enforcement officers killed on duty remain eligible for health insurance and at affordable rates.
"SB 872 is the bill that corrects a misinterpretation of a bill I passed in 1993 regarding how benefits are paid by the families of peace officers who died in the line of duty," said Sen. Lucio. "It ensures that the survivors pay the same premium amount as active employees and not any additional amounts paid by the employer."
While many county and municipal employers complied with the intent of the law, some did not, including the state. In one case, the state raised the premium for the family of Game Warden Justin Hurst of El Campo, who was murdered in 2007, from about $300 a month to over $700 per month. Sadly, because of the increased cost, many survivors are unable to afford the insurance and allow it to lapse.
The House Sponsor Rep. Jose Menendez added a perfecting amendment that includes anyone who is in training or an academy cadet to the provisions of the bill. This amendment is intended to help the family of a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper trainee who died prior to his official graduation.
After meeting with survivor families, Sen. Lucio became aware of other situations he felt should be rectified. For example, his bill also allows survivor families who drop coverage or are canceled to rejoin the insurance plan, even if the spouse remarries.
"These are the men and women who are on the front lines of defending our society and allow us to live in peace," said Sen. Lucio. "We need to let the families of those who have died know that we honor their sacrifice AND we need to let those still serving know that should the worst happen, we will maintain our commitment to their families!"
The bill is now headed to the Governor for his signature.