Markosek: Host of bills supporting emergency responders pass House
State Rep. Brandon Markosek, D-Allegheny, lauded the passing of a package of bills that would help both volunteer and paid emergency companies attract and retain more members.
“The women and men who continue to answer the call when our communities need them most unfortunately have undergone a drastic decline in membership,” Markosek said. “Fortunately, but not surprisingly, state legislators here at the Capitol knew the importance of this bill package, which is why we were able to vote and push this bill package onward to the state Senate.”
The bills, which would expand support for emergency provider companies and reward first responders for their service, include:
- Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program (H.B. 1834) – would expand the eligible uses of grants through the program to include recruitment and retention initiatives.
- Property Tax Relief for Volunteers (H.B. 1839, H.B. 1705) – would allow property tax credits of up to 100% for active members of volunteer fire companies and nonprofit ambulance companies whose names are on their primary residence’s property tax bills – up to full property tax relief, depending on local ordinances and school districts.
- Tuition Assistance and Student Loan Forgiveness for Volunteers (H.B. 1773, H.B. 1786) – would create programs for tuition assistance and student loan forgiveness for active members of volunteer fire companies and nonprofit ambulance companies.
- Expanding Firefighter’s Relief Funds (H.B. 1673) – would make it easier for fire companies to use these dollars the best way they see fit in their communities, including investing in training, recruiting new members and recognizing those who’ve served a long time.
- Ending Realty Transfer Taxes (H.B. 732, H.B. 269) – would permit property owned by companies or by active volunteers who have fallen in the line of duty to be transferred to a spouse or child without paying a Realty Transfer Tax.
- Creating Online Training (S.B. 146) – would develop free, certified, online training programs for firefighters to help volunteers meet training requirements more conveniently and by taking less time out of their schedules.
- Increasing Loan Assistance Program Loan Limits (H.B. 1816) -- would increase the dollar amounts of the volunteer fire and EMS program that has been so successful in helping companies get vital safety equipment.
- Ending the Liquor License Surcharge (H.B. 1048) – would eliminate the $700 annual application surcharge to renew a liquor license for volunteer fire companies and national veterans’ organizations.
Markosek said he hopes the state Senate will also see the importance of this bill package and quickly vote on the measures. If the bill package were to pass the state Senate, the legislation would head to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for signing