FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2011
AUSTIN - Senator Lucio filed SB 423, Thursday, in an attempt to close loopholes in statute that have been pried open by some local governments who refuse to provide health care coverage for the families of fallen officers.
"We've been down this road before with two different bills since 1993. This bill spells it out very clearly - if the spouse of a fallen peace officer wants health insurance they get can get it. No one falls through the cracks," Sen. Lucio said.
The bill has also been filed in the House by state Representative Jose Menendez of San Antonio.
"I am again honored that Senator Lucio has asked me to join him in filing legislation that will ensure Texas takes care of the families of fallen law enforcement officers," Menendez said. "It is a little frustrating that some local-government benefits providers continue to resist the legislature's mandate to do right by the survivors of our first line heroes, and this bill reaffirms our determination to correct this injustice."
Sen. Lucio originally passed a bill in 1993 that allowed the families of fallen peace officers to continue purchasing their health insurance at the same rate the officers were paying prior to their death.
While most, particularly counties and municipalities, have complied with the intent of the statute, some have not. Support groups like CLEAT - the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas - have worked tirelessly to bring examples of noncompliance to Senator Lucio's attention. CLEAT was shocked to learn that certain entities were forcing some surviving spouses to pay outrageous health insurance premiums, while denying coverage to others on a technicality.
"We simply cannot do enough for the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending their communities,' Sen. Lucio said. The bill will also ensure peace of mind for current officers who can be certain that their families will be taken care of, whatever happens to them, Lucio added.