On February 22, the House Economic Matters Committee was set to hear HB 615, which would create a new public safety workers’ compensation presumption for law enforcement officers. The bill would grant a presumption to officers with lower back injuries that their injuries came from wearing their duty belts. However, at the hearing the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Benjamin Barnes, announced in light of significant opposition and the need for bill amendments he was withdrawing the bill and would reintroduce it next year.
MACo was prepared to testify in opposition to HB 615. MACo has traditionally opposed expansion of the presumptions because they not based on current medical science, are practically impossible to rebut, and are extremely costly to many local jurisdictions. MACo will also be opposing another presumption bill that has been introduced by the Administration, HB 1101 / SB 949, which would expand the cancer presumption for firefighters. The bill hearing for HB 1101 is scheduled for February 29 in the House Economic Matters Committee. SB 949’s hearing has not yet been scheduled.