Families of Colorado’s Fallen Officers get Senate consideration for extension of health benefits

Senate Bill-148 Gets Unanimous Committee Nod Following Bipartisan Press Conference

DENVER – In a 5-0 vote, SB-148 has passed through the Health and Human Services Committee. The bill, sponsored by Senator Beth Martinez Humenik (R-Thornton), provides the families of our fallen officers and other state employees with health benefits for up to 12 months as they rebuild their lives and plot a path forward.

Currently, health benefits for the family expire on the last day of the month the employee passes away.

Prior to the committee meeting, Senator Martinez Humenik held a press conference in the Capitol, speaking to the importance of this legislation.

When somebody is going through grief, the last thing they’re thinking about is ‘Oh, I got a letter, I’m going to have to deal with insurance. They’re trying to get through the emotional situation they’ve unfortunately been placed in. They are trying to figure out how to keep things going for their family…This is a very important bill and it will really help those who are struggling. — said Senator Martinez Humenik during the press conference

Joining Senator Martinez Humenik as sponsors of SB-148 were Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Adams County) and Representative Polly Lawrence (R-Roxborough Park). Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Michael Lewis and Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew Packard also spoke in favor of the bill. Both the Department of Transportation and State Patrol are two of the largest state departments, employing thousands across Colorado.

The State really needs to back our employees up. As a leader in law enforcement and a leader for the Colorado State Patrol, I want to do more for our employees. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do enough – I know I’ll never be able to do enough – to support them in times like this, but this legislation is a big step. — Chief Packard

Another special guest that spoke in favor of SB-148 was Velma Donahue, the widow of State Trooper Cody Donahue, who lost his life on November 25, 2016 after he was hit by a tractor-trailer while responding to a crash. Unfortunately, the Donahue family lost their health coverage just five days later.

Six days after he was killed, before we had his funeral, my daughter got sick and I took her to the doctor, to be told that after 11 years, we had no health insurance. —  Donahue

The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

 

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