July 22, 2020
Support for Utah and America’s veterans and first responders is a top priority for the Office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. We’re pleased and encouraged to report that two bills supported by our office are poised to achieve Congressional approval and will likely become law. The first bill would offer death and disability benefits to first responders whose injury or death is related to COVID-19. The other bill offers grants and other help to cities, counties and Indian tribes rehabilitate veterans charged with nonviolent crimes.
The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020, sponsored by Sen. Grassley, extends death and disability benefits under the Public Safety Officer’s Benefits Program (PSOB) to include public safety officers and their survivors if the first responder’s injury or death is related to COVID-19. “For purposes of disability benefits, the bill creates a general presumption that COVID-19 or related complications suffered by a public safety officer constitutes a personal injury sustained in the line of duty.” The bill passed the Senate in mid-May. Utah Attorney General Reyes signed a letter of support with 52 attorneys general.
The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019, sponsored by Congressman Crist (Florida Attorney General from 2003-2007), directs USDOJ to establish a veteran treatment court program “to coordinate grants, training, and technical assistance for states, municipalities, and American Indian tribes to set up and operate special courts for veterans accused of nonviolent crimes.” USDOJ is also directed to coordinate with the Department of Veterans Affairs on the program. The bill previously passed the Senate in January. 44 attorneys general joined Attorney General Reyes in supporting this bill.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 27, 2020
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES AND UTAH LAW ENFORCEMENT UNITED TO SUPPORT FIRST RESPONDER BENEFITS
Congress Considers Bill to Extend Death Benefits Due to COVID-19
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a coalition of law enforcement officers from around the State of Utah in urging Congress to quickly pass S.3607 – Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020.
S. 3607 has already passed the U.S. Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives. The bill extends death benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB) to survivors of public safety officers (e.g., law enforcement officers) who die because of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019). The PSOB program provides death, disability, and education benefits to public safety officers and survivors of public safety officers who are killed or injured in the line of duty.
Specifically, this bill creates a general presumption that a public safety officer who dies from COVID-19 or related complications sustained an injury in the line of duty.
“Our men and women of law enforcement are answering calls on the front lines every day, facing numerous threats including the coronavirus. I see it every day in my own state. I’m proud we can join our voices together as a Utah blue community to care for the families of our fallen officers,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “It is urgent Congress pass this bill and allow President Trump to sign it quickly. The pandemic has already claimed the lives of several law enforcement officers and there will sadly be more. The families of these front-line responders deserve these benefits in the fastest and most efficient way possible.”
Among the Utah law enforcement agencies joining in support of this legislation include the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, the Utah Sheriff’s Association, the Utah Chiefs of Police and the Utah Peace Officers Association.
A copy of the letter can be read here.