Election-year bills to guarantee city and town firefighters tax-free, two-thirds-pay pensions if they get any type of cancer during their years on the job, or afterward, won the blessing of two legislative committees on Wednesday.
The Senate Labor Committee and the House Labor Committee approved the two matching bills and moved them along for final votes during a special summer session next week.
The one nay vote came from Republican Sen. Jessica de la Cruz who lauded the goal, but said she could not vote for the bill unless it distinguished between lung cancer, for example, and skin cancer on a frequent beach goer. She also raised a concern about the benefits continuing, with no end, to someone who has been cured.
Advocates for the firefighters say the proposed law — sponsored in the House by former firefighter Michael Morin — is needed to correct a “terrible” Rhode Island Supreme Court decision last December that took away what they considered a right they’d had since 1986.