Attorney General Ford Urges Congress to Pass Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act


May 21, 2020

Carson City, NV Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general urging Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders (SAFR) Act. The Act would permit the families of first responders, who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19, to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders or their survivors otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty. Sadly, several law enforcement officers across the country have already succumbed to the novel Coronavirus. Current federal law would only allow survivors access to certain benefits if evidence is provided proving the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the daily sacrifices of our public safety officers even more clear,” said AG Ford. “When an officer loses their life in the line of duty, there are often many benefits available to their families. This legislation ensures these families don’t face unnecessary barriers to benefits they have already been promised. I applaud the Senate’s recent passage of this legislation and am urging the House to do the same.”

In a letter sent to Congress, AG Ford urged quick passage of the SAFR Act. The letter states, in part, “When public safety officers are called to respond, they do not know whether they are coming into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19. We have seen harrowing stories about how public safety officers have taken heroic actions to save the lives of others, knowing that they risked infection in doing so.”

The SAFR Act would establish a temporary presumption that officers contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of a first responder’s last shift. The legislation ensures families of officers and first responders lost while fighting the pandemic do not face unnecessary barriers to benefits already promised under existing federal law.

With the backing of 52 of the nation's attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. Historically, NAAG endorses less than a dozen policies a year.   

This legislation is sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. It recently passed the United States Senate and is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.

In addition to Nevada, other states participating in this letter include: Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

 

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