– Legislation authored by state Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) has been successfully amended into a bill that would increase benefits for emergency responders and is now on its way to the Senate following overwhelming bipartisan support in the House.
“Pennsylvania has an emergency response crisis on its hands with falling participation numbers and companies struggling to make ends meet,” Struzzi said. “We need to find ways to address the challenges of first responders for the safety of our communities, and I’m hoping the bill we passed moves quickly through the legislative process.”
Early last year, Struzzi sponsored House Bill 612, which would provide loan forgiveness and tuition assistance for students and graduates who are active volunteer firefighters. That legislation is part of changes made to House Bill 2157
, which the House advanced Wednesday.
“Five years ago, a 12% tax on the retail sale of consumer fireworks was imposed, and a maximum of $2 million was allocated for EMS grants and online volunteer firefighter training programs,” added Struzzi. “House Bill 2157 would result in every tax dollar collected helping our emergency responders in an expanded number of ways.”
Using Struzzi’s bill language as a vehicle, House Bill 2157 would target $1 million for the afore-mentioned loan forgiveness and tuition assistance. The legislation also calls for the following:
$1.5 million for the EMS Grant Program
$250,000 for online firefighter training
$1 million for training EMS personnel
$500,000 for EMS training center capital grants
$500,000 for career fire department capital grants
$250,000 for a public safety campaign on the use of fireworks
Any remaining money would be equally divided between the EMS Grant Program and for making grants under the Fire Company Grant Program
“In addition to showing appreciation for our hardworking emergency responders, this bill would help keep these vital service providers in existence,” Struzzi added. “While they are great, chicken barbecues and sub sales simply aren’t enough anymore, and we need to get creative in finding ways to support these talented men and women.”
Questions about this or any state government issue should be directed to Struzzi’s Indiana district office at 1-724-465-0220.