The legislative session is still over three weeks away, but a local lawmaker is getting a head start on a bill that would provide the presumption of an on the job injury for first responders who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
State Senator Nick Frentz (D-North Mankato) says the measure would change current Minnesota law that says there is no presumption that a first time diagnosis of PTSD for police, fire or first responders comes from work.
“We’ve seen countless examples through the years, not only in my 30 years of practicing law, but State Patrolmen who were at the scene of fatal accidents, police and fire who were at domestic disputes. All kinds of different traumas. What we understand better than ever though, is the ways in which we can try to treat it and the ways in which it’s most likely to come from those incidents. Even if it doesn’t come right away, that night or the next day.”
During the 2017 session, Frentz testified before the Work Compensation Advisory Council on the measure and saw it overwhelmingly pass in the Senate. Despite bipartisan support, the measure was later taken out of the Workers Compensation Bill during conference committee meetings.
“I will add for your listeners, it is an extremely high priority for Minnesota firefighters, police chiefs, police officers and first responders. They’ve made it clear, this is very important to them. So I come back to my original statement. If we want these people to be protecting and serving us, we better show them they’re important.”
Since that time, Frentz and Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River) have continued to work on the bill, which included a meeting this week with the Work Comp Advisory Council. He says they did discus the measure, but it was not voted on.
“Now we are looking at developing the same kind of support in the Senate and hopefully he’ll (Zerwas) be able to get a hearing in the House,” said Frentz.
While the Minnesota inter-county Association and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce have indicated they are opposed to the change, Frentz says there is a disagreement about how much money is at stake. He added that this would be a modest change and one that would be a great investment in the people protecting and serving Minnesota communities.
“It’s not what it costs, it’s what it pays. You want to have high quality people recruited to the profession. I have a friend who is in the Mankato Police Department and they are having some difficulty recruiting new officers to the profession. This is one of the ways you can show them that they’re important. For an employer, I would just say for your business to be successful, you want your community to be safe.”
The legislative session begins on February 20.