TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Many Florida city governments are opposed to a bill that would make first responders eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they're dealing with mental trauma.
First responders see the worst of the worst on a daily basis. A bad day at work for them could involve a dead child or a mass shooting. That's why post-traumatic stress is common for first responders.
There's a bill currently being considered by Florida lawmakers that would help first responders dealing with PTSD. 10News uncovered which Florida cities are more interested in saving money than the well-being of first responders.
Under current Florida law, a first responder is only eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they have a physical injury. There's a bill to change that moving easily through the Legislature. So far. it's passed two committees in the Senate and one in the House, all unanimously.
Powerful testimonies from first responders and their families have resonated with lawmakers.
Tampa native Megan Vila told lawmakers, "If I could be anywhere else right now, I would, because that would mean my brother, Stephen Scott LaDue, would still be alive today."
LaDue took his own life after suffering from PTSD. He had been a firefighter with Tampa Fire Rescue for nearly 30 years.
In Tuesday's committee meeting, Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole from South Florida not only voted in favor of the bill but called out city governments for not backing it.
Edwards-Walpole said, 'I find it distasteful, I find it lacking in humanity, and I find it just downright shameful the position to say that this bill isn't necessary."
Edwards-Walpole shared the opposition e-mails she received with 10News. Cities like Cape Coral, Boynton Beach and Pinellas Park are urging lawmakers to say no to House Bill 227.
The e-mail from the City of Pinellas Park said in part:
Emphasis for first responders' mental health should focus on treatment and education, and not revolve around additional workers' compensation benefits, which are already significantly more robust for first responders.
For the most part, city governments are worried about the cost. According to a recent, independent study from the NCCI ( National Council on Compensation Insurance), the cost for local governments would be minimal since data reported to the NCCI shows that first responder classifications represent about 2 percent of losses in Florida.
The proposed legislation still needs to pass two committees in the Senate and two committees in the House.