H. B. 4396
(By Delegates Swartzmiller and D. Poling)
(Originating in the Committee on Finance)
[February 27, 2012]
A BILL to amend and reenact §5H-1-1, §5H-1-2 and §5H-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to authorizing a death benefit to the surviving spouse or designated beneficiary or contingent beneficiaries of law-enforcement officers who die in the performance their duties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §5H-1-1, §5H-1-2 and §5H-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. WEST VIRGINIA FIRE, AND EMS AND LAW-ENFORCEMENT OFFICER SURVIVOR BENEFIT ACT.
§5H-1-1. Title and legislative intent.
(a) This article is known as the “West Virginia Fire, and EMS and Law-Enforcement Officer Survivor Benefit Act.”
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to provide for the payment of death benefits to the surviving spouse, designated beneficiary, children or parents of firefighters, and EMS and law-enforcement personnel killed in the performance of their duties.
§5H-1-2. Death benefit for survivors.
(a) In the event a firefighter, or EMS or law-enforcement provider is killed in the performance of his or her duties, the department chief, within thirty days from the date of death shall submit certification of the death to the Governor’s office.
(b) This act includes both paid and volunteer fire, and EMS and law-enforcement personnel acting in the performance of his or her duties of any fire, or EMS or law-enforcement department certified by the State of West Virginia.
(c) A firefighter, or EMS or law-enforcement provider is considered to be acting in the performance of his or her duties for the purposes of this act when he or she is participating in any role of a fire, or EMS or law-enforcement department function. This includes training, administration meetings, fire, or EMS or law-enforcement incidents, service calls, apparatus, equipment or station maintenance, fundraisers and travel to or from such functions.
(d) Travel includes riding upon or in any apparatus or vehicle which is owned or used by the fire, or EMS or law-enforcement department, or any other vehicle going to or directly returning from a firefighter’s home, place of business or other place where he or she shall have been prior to participating in a fire, or EMS or law-enforcement department function or upon the authorization of the chief of the department, agency head or other person in charge.
(e) Certification shall include the name of the certified fire, or EMS or law-enforcement program, the name of the deceased firefighter, or EMS or law-enforcement provider, the name and address of the beneficiary and the circumstances that qualify the deceased individual for death benefits under this act. Upon receipt of the certification from the certified fire, or EMS or law-enforcement program, the state shall, from moneys from the State Treasury, General Fund, pay to the certified fire, or EMS or law-enforcement program the sum of $50,000 in the name of the beneficiary of the death benefit. Within five days of receipt of this sum from the state, the fire, or EMS or law-enforcement program certified by the state shall pay the sum as a benefit to the surviving spouse, or designated beneficiary. If there is no surviving spouse or designated beneficiary, to the minor children of the firefighter, or EMS or law-enforcement provider killed in the performance of duty. When no spouse, designated beneficiary, or minor children survive, the benefit shall be paid to the parent or parents of the firefighter, or EMS or law-enforcement provider. It is the responsibility of the certified fire or EMS program to document the surviving spouse or beneficiary for purposes of reporting to the Governor’s office.
(f) Any death ruled by a physician to be a result of an injury sustained during any of the above mentioned performance of fire department, EMS or law-enforcement duties will be eligible for this benefit, even if this death occurs at a later time.
(g) Those individuals who are both firefighters and EMS personnel covered by this article are eligible for only one death benefit payment.
§5H-1-3. Effective Date.
The effective date for this act is January 1, 2007. The operation of the amendments to this article enacted during the year 2012 shall be effective retrospectively to January 1, 2012.