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Conn. lawmakers consider workers comp reform for first responders


Connecticut legislators are considering another bill that would provide workers compensation benefits for first responders who witness traumatic events after a similar bill failed to pass last year.

S.B. 56, introduced earlier this month, would allow benefits to be provided to employees who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after “visually witnessing the death or maiming, or visually witnessing the immediate aftermath of such death or maiming, of one or more human beings,” according to text of the bill posted on the Connecticut General Assembly website. “Immediate aftermath” is defined in the bill as being within six hours of a scene being secured by law enforcement officers.

Connecticut lawmakers weighed similar legislation last year in the wake of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. That bill was tabled in May, according to the state General Assembly website.

Legislators approved the creation of an assistance program in March 2013 that would provide benefits to Sandy Hook first responders. The program, established by H.B. 6599, is funded by private gifts, donations, grants and money from Connecticut's Office of Victim Services.

Municipal employers who attended a public hearing Tuesday for S.B. 56 said they're concerned the bill would dramatically increase their workers comp costs, The Day newspaper reported Wednesday.

Connecticut workers comp law currently does not cover mental health claims that do not have a corresponding physical injury, according to the Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission.