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.