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First responder bills continue to trend in 2023 legislative season


Two states have introduced bills that would clear red tape for first responders to file workers compensation presumption claims.

Virginia lawmakers on Tuesday introduced H.B. 1905, which would create a presumption as to death or disability from back, hip, knee and neck injuries for first responders who have worn a “duty belt” for at least five years. The bill defines a duty belt as a belt used to hold a firearm, handcuffs or other wrist restraints, baton, stun weapon, portable radio, pepper spray, ammunition magazines, tourniquet and other items related to law-enforcement work.

H.B. 1775, also introduced Tuesday in Virginia and sent to committee, would add anxiety disorders and depression to compensable mental injuries suffered by those in law enforcement, putting such conditions at par with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a qualifying event witnessed while in the line of duty. Language in S.B. 904, introduced on Jan. 5, would also add such disorders to the state’s PTSD presumption. That bill would also add dispatchers to qualifying professionals, as would a separate bill filed Monday, S.B. 1088.

Similarly, Connecticut H.B. 5184, filed Wednesday  and sent to committee, would add 911 dispatchers to that state’s PTSD presumption law for first responders.