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Legislative Memo

BILL:

S.593

Support

SUBJECT:

Volunteer Firefighters/Ambulance Workers-Benefit Increase

 

DATE:

March 18, 2005

 

This bill provides for a retroactive increase to the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law. Further, it increases the death benefits under the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law.

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. opposes this proposal because it passes the cost of the legislation to the businesses community by increasing the assessments and the costs for the claims.

This sponsors memorandum states that the benefit increase is a cost of living adjustment. Yet the bill does not simply increase weekly benefits to reflect a higher cost of living. It actually increases various lump sum payments under a literal interpretation of the bill. Cost of living increases have no bearing on lump sum awards. Under the provisions of the bill lump sum benefits which are paid to a surviving spouse of a deceased volunteer firefighter would increase from $50,000 to $56,000 even in cases where the volunteer firefighter was killed years before.

This legislation also seeks to have the Fund for Reopened Cases pay for the new costs this bill would add. The Fund for Reopened Cases is funded by an assessment on employers. The majority of this assessment is paid for by employers and not just those that pay under the Volunteer Firefighter Benefits Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law, but all employers.

The employers who have no employees that are either volunteer firefighters or ambulance workers will be forced to finance their claims. New York employers are financially burdened under our current system. This legislation would make New York's employers responsible for insuring injuries for people that they do not employ.

The Business Council of New York State, Inc. is opposed to this legislation.