Following five months of meetings by the Legislative Study Committee on Volunteer Firefighter and EMT Shortages, the very group that created the Study Committee, the Joint Legislative Council, acted on the Study Committee's recommendations February 1.
In the end, seven pieces of draft bill legislation were considered by the Joint Legislative Council, with six bill drafts approved for introduction to the full legislature by the Joint Legislative Council. The only bill draft to not be approved involved creation of a fire service district authorizing the district to levy a property tax and impose special charges. >> Click to review draft bill legislation voted on by the Joint Legislative Council.
According to PAAW Executive Director Joe Covelli, "It is apparent anything with a fiscal note or tax wasn't being considered or moved forward, so that really handcuffed the Study Committee. The legislative bill drafts to address the EMT volunteer shortage are largely centered around three main themes: license renewal, income tax and length of service credits, and adding first responders to the Funding Assistance Program. These measures may help if they become law, but is it enough to increase firefighter and EMT recruitment and retention? Time will tell." Covelli added, "I think we still need to look at how EMS is delivered and better resource management. That's on us as an industry to work together and figure out".