The House Pensions and Benefits committee on Monday heard the Senate version of a bill that would clarify that for those enrolled in the Kansas Police and Fire pension plan prior to 1989, any service-connected diagnosis of specific types of cancer or blood-borne pathogen would be a qualifying event for disability.
“We believe, since the bill is so narrowly focused and only applies to such a small number of KP&F members, there would be no meaningful actuarial impact,” said KPERS Executive Director Alan Conroy.
Law enforcement lobbyist Ed Klumpp noted that the Senate was unanimous in its support.
“This bill did pass the Senate 40-0, so far, we haven’t found anybody that hates our bill,” said Klumpp. “This is important, though, because it levels the playing field on the disability on these employment related cancers and the blood-borne pathogens. It gives them the same coverage that is afforded under Tier 2.”
Tier 2 doesn’t have the service-connected diagnosis language as part of their agreement. Stephen Duerst with the Kansas State Firefighter’s Association noted that cancer diagnoses among firefighters is now a national issue.
“At the federal level, we’re now seeing a registry that has been developed and passed by Congress,” said Duerst. “They are taking action. As you see more items in homes, more kind of manufactured furniture and things like that that are not traditional wood, it’s a lot of synthetic materials. That’s where you start to see a lot of these cancers develop as well, as firefighters go into a home. They breathe in that air sometimes.”
There is an effort to do a better job of cleaning equipment so that the risk can be somewhat mitigated going forward.
The committee plans to work the bill later this week.