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Session Law

2005

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Chapter 125 AN ACT PROVIDING DEATH BENEFITS FOR SURVIVORS OF VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND OTHER VOLUNTEER PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL.

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is forthwith to provide death benefits for volunteer firefighters and other volunteer public safety personnel, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. To provide for supplementing certain items in the general appropriation act and other appropriation acts for fiscal year 2006, the sum set forth in section 2 of this act is hereby appropriated from the General Fund unless specifically designated otherwise in this act or in those appropriation acts, for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified in this act or in those appropriation acts, and subject to the provisions of law regulating the disbursement of public funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. This sum shall be in addition to any amounts previously appropriated and made available for the purposes of this item.

SECTION 2. 0612-1012 For a one-time transfer from the General Fund to the Pension Fund to pay for the cost of an annuity for the family of firefighter Martin H. McNamara V, pursuant to section 3 of this act.....$650,000.

SECTION 3. The state treasurer acting through the Worcester regional retirement board shall pay from the pension fund the proceeds of the annuity funded in item 0612-1012 of section 2 of this act to Claire B. McNamara, the surviving spouse of firefighter Martin H. McNamara V, so long as she remains unmarried, an accidental death benefit allowance to consist of an annuity equal to two-thirds of the average annual salary of a first-year career firefighter in the local area. The average shall be determined by a survey of not fewer than 3 surrounding towns which are member units of the Worcester Regional Retirement System, such towns as determined by the Worcester Regional Retirement System, in consultation with the public employee retirement administration commission. The annuity shall be increased by $2,600 for each child of firefighter Martin H. McNamara V who is under 18 years of age or 22 years of age if a full-time student, or who is over 18 years of age and is physically or mentally incapacitated from earning. If there is no surviving spouse or the surviving spouse later dies, the annuity shall be paid to the eligible children or legal guardian in equal shares. If the surviving spouse marries, an annuity of $12,000 should be made annually to each eligible child. For the purposes of this act, the words, "full-time student" shall mean a child who is in full-time attendance in an accredited educational institution offering full-time courses of study equivalent to or higher than secondary school study. The words "accredited educational institution" shall mean any school, college or university that is licensed, approved or accredited, as the case may be, in the state in which it is located. Any annuity granted under this section shall be increased by the same percentage allowed to other retirees or their dependents.

If any unused portion of the proceeds of the annuity is to be returned to the treasurer, he shall transfer such moneys to the General Fund.

SECTION 4. Chapter 32 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 89D, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, the following section:-

Section 89E. (a) Notwithstanding section 27C of chapter 29 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, any city, town, or district that utilizes volunteer emergency service providers shall provide 1 of the following 3 accidental death benefits for the surviving spouse of a volunteer emergency service provider. If any call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent, or reserve firefighter, or a call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent, or reserve emergency medical services provider who is a member of a police or fire department and who is not subject to chapter 152, while in the performance of his duties and as a result of an accident while responding to or returning from an alarm of fire or any emergency, or as the result of an accident involving a fire department vehicle, which the firefighter or emergency medical service provider is operating or in which he is riding, or while at the scene of a fire or any emergency is killed or sustains injuries which results in his death; or an auxiliary, intermittent, special, part-time, or reserve police officer who, while in the performance of his duties, and as a result of an assault on his person, or as a result of an accident involving a police department vehicle which he is operating or in which he is riding in the performance of his duties as a police officer is killed or sustains injuries which result in his death, his surviving spouse shall be eligible for 1 of the following accidental death benefits as selected by the city, town, or district.

(1) The city, town, or district shall pay to the surviving spouse an accidental death benefit in the form of an annuity equal to at least 2/3 of but not more than 100 per cent of the annual rate of regular compensation payable to a regular or permanent member of the police or fire department in the first year of service or, if the police or fire department does not have any regular or permanent members, an annuity equal to at least 2/3 of but not more than 100 per cent of the annual average compensation payable to a regular or permanent firefighter, emergency medical services provider or police officer in the local area; this average to be determined by a survey of 3 surrounding cities, towns or districts, as determined by the public employee retirement administration commission. The annuity shall be increased annually by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the cost of living determination made by the general court for that year under section 102.

(2) The city, town or district shall establish an insurance policy that provides a one-time accidental death benefit of $500,000, indexed for inflation.

(3) The city, town or district shall establish an insurance policy that provides an annuity payment of not less than 2/3 of but not more than 100 per cent of the annual rate of regular compensation payable to a regular or permanent member of the police or fire department in the first year of service or, if the police or fire department does not have any regular or permanent members, the accidental death benefit to the surviving spouse shall be based on the annual average compensation payable to a regular or permanent firefighter, emergency medical services provider or police officer in the local area; such average to be determined by a survey of 3 surrounding cities, towns or districts, as determined by the public employee retirement administration commission.

(b) If there is no surviving spouse or if the surviving spouse later dies, the benefit that would have been payable under this section to the surviving spouse will be payable to the surviving minor children until they reach the age of majority and to any adult children of the deceased volunteer emergency services provider who are physically or mentally incapacitated from earning. These payments will be on a per capita basis among any minor or incapacitated children. The benefits payable under this section are subject to judgments or orders for child support of any court of competent jurisdiction.

(c) The surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, the legal representative of any minor or disabled children shall elect the benefits provided under this section or any accidental death benefits provided by this chapter, except section 100A, to which he may be entitled. This election shall be made in writing and shall not be subject to change or revocation after the first payment of any benefit under this section.

(d) As used in this section, volunteer emergency services provider shall mean a call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent or reserve firefighter, or a call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent or reserve emergency medical services provider who is a member of a police or fire department and who is not subject to chapter 152, or an auxiliary, intermittent, special, part-time or reserve police officer.

(e) Nothing in this section shall preclude a city, town or district from entering into an agreement with 1 or more governmental units for the purpose of pooling resources to pay for accidental death benefits for the surviving spouse of a volunteer emergency services provider who sustains injuries or illnesses, while in the performance of his duties, which are the direct and proximate cause of his death.

SECTION 5. Section 100A of said chapter 32 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 8 and 9, the words "firefighter, public prosecutor, police officer or corrections officer" and inserting in place thereof the following:- deceased public safety employee.

SECTION 6. Paragraph (c) of said section 100A of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by adding the following sentence:- As used in this section, the words "deceased public safety employee" shall mean any firefighter, any call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent or reserve firefighter, any call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent or reserve emergency medical services provider who is a member of a police or fire department and who is not subject to chapter 152, any police officer, any auxiliary, intermittent, special, part-time or reserve police officer, any public prosecutor, or any corrections officer.

SECTION 7. Said section 100A of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in lines 16 and 17, in lines 18 and 19, and in lines 19 and 20, the words "firefighter, public prosecutor, police officer or corrections officer" and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following words:- deceased public safety employee.

SECTION 8. Sections 1, 2 and 3 shall take effect upon passage of this act.

SECTION 9. The remaining sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2006.

Approved November 8, 2005.

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