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Lawmakers Carry Out Death Benefits Measure

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Senate panel Tuesday approved a proposal that would set death benefits that would be paid if law-enforcement officers, firefighters, other first responders and military members are killed while on duty. 

The proposal (SB 7098), sponsored by Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, would carry out a constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 7, passed by voters in November.

The bill, in part, addresses law-enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and Florida National Guard members. They would be entitled to $75,000 in death benefits if they accidentally die in the course of their duties and $225,000 if they are intentionally or illegally killed, such as if a law-enforcement officer is ambushed, Hooper said.

Also, the bill would create a $75,000 death benefit for military members who are Florida residents or stationed in the state and are killed on active duty and are engaged in official duties. The death benefit would be $25,000 if they are on active duty but are killed under other circumstances, according to a Senate staff analysis. The state would pay the death benefits for military members.

The bill was approved Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. A House version (HB 7105) has cleared the Appropriations Committee and is pending in the State Affairs Committee.