Bill aims to help spouses of fallen Tampa first responders – Florida Politics

Bill aims to help spouses of fallen Tampa first responders

Legislation that would increase the benefits paid to the spouses of police and firefighters employed by the City of Tampa who lost their lives in the line of duty advanced in a House committee Tuesday.

The bipartisan bill (HB 1139), sponsored by Tampa Republican Shawn Harrison and House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, also of Tampa, authorizes the city to enter into a supplemental contract with certain firefighters and police officers to increase their pension under certain circumstances.

It increases benefits paid to surviving spouses from 65 percent to 100 percent of the member’s final year’s earnings while surviving children will receive a portion of up to 30 percent yearly until they reach adulthood. If the member has more than one child, that 30% portion is divided evenly.

“When we are in trouble and need of help, Tampa Police and Firefighters always respond to the call, often running directly into danger to protect us. We must return the favor and protect those families in their time of need,” Cruz said in a press release after the bill was passed in the House Local, Federal, and Veteran’s Affairs Subcommittee.

The proposed change was negotiated between the City of Tampa, Tampa Police Benevolent Association, Inc., and the International Association of Firefighters Local 754, ratified by their respective memberships, and approved by the Tampa City Council.

The bill has no companion in the Senate at this time.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.
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