California Professional Firefighters

FF Survivor Bill Hits Home with Fire-Stricken Ventura Lawmaker

When Assemblymember Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo Springs) stood up to address his colleagues in the Legislature this morning, his mind was understandably torn.

As he spoke, his family was being evacuated from their home as a precaution against the advancing Springs Fire. Gorell’s staff was, at that moment, trying to get him an earlier flight home so that he could be with his wife and children.

But the GOP lawmaker’s mind was also on the men and women protecting his family. Gorell rose to support AB 1373 -- CPF-sponsored legislation designed to help the survivors of firefighters who die from job-related cancer.

As I speak into this microphone, my family … my wife and kids … have been evacuated from our home,” Gorrell told his colleagues in his floor speech on AB 1373. “These are our heroes … and we need to support them.

AB 1373 (Perez) fixes a 100-year-old law that enforces a “death clock” on public safety officers who are stricken with job-related cancer. Currently, if a stricken officer lives beyond 240 weeks, his or her family is shut out of Workers’ Compensation survivor benefits.

This is a common-sense bill that allows these benefits to be considered over a longer period of time,” said Gorell.

Similar legislation was vetoed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown after intense lobbying by local government lobbying groups, such as the League of California Cities, who misleadingly claimed a huge cost.

The new version has since been narrowed to address the cost concerns. Further study of the cost issue was requested by the governor and could result in a further narrowing of the measure.

"(Some) are trying to say this will punch a hole in the budget. It's simply not true. The population this would apply to is not the massive group opponents would have you believe."

Last year, Gorell was one of a small handful of GOP lawmakers who supported the legislation, so he’s no Johnny-come-lately to the issue. "I supported it last year and it's a better bill this year," he said.

"Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Assemblyman Gorell, as well as our members on the front lines and all those who have been victimized by these fires," said CPF President Lou Paulson

FOLLOW: Information on the Springs Fire

READ: about AB 1373

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