RACINE — Legislation supporting the families of fallen police officers has received a big endorsement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

The legislation, if passed and signed by Gov. Tony Evers, would provide health insurance benefits to the families of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

“No family whose loved one paid the ultimate sacrifice should have to worry about their own health insurance,” Vos said. “It’s a benefit that the state gives to families of fallen firefighters. It’s time we extend it to law enforcement who serve and protect our communities.”

The proposed legislation would not apply to a survived spouse who remarries or reaches age 65, or to a surviving child after he or she reaches age 26.

Vos is working on an amendment with state Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, to include the Wisconsin State Patrol; it would change the funding mechanism to allow the state to reimburse local governments’ costs through shared revenue appropriations.

The amendment would also make the legislation apply retroactively to Jan. 1 to include the family of Racine Police Officer John Hetland, who was killed June 17 attempting to prevent a robbery at Teezers Bar and Grill.

According to the state Department of Revenue, under the proposed legislation a municipality can request reimbursements for paid health insurance from the Department of Revenue through the Public Service Commission, which receives funds from the Police and Fire Protection Fund collected from telephone bills.

The state estimates that the Police and Fire Protection Fund generates about $52 million annually but “revenues are generally flat.”

The legislation was co-authored by state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

Several Racine County and area legislators have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation, including: state Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers; state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes; state Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine; state. Rep Robert Wittke, R-Caledonia; and state Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego.

“No family whose loved one paid the ultimate sacrifice should have to worry about their own health insurance.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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