Rep. McNeill votes for package of bills to assist volunteer first responders

st vlunteer first responders

HARRISBURG, Oct. 29 – State Rep. Jeannie McNeill, D-Lehigh, voted for legislation that would help Pennsylvania’s volunteer firefighters and EMT companies. The House passed the legislation and the Senate is expected to consider the proposals.

McNeill said the 23-bill package came out of a report by the SR 6, commission, which traveled the state to evaluate the plight of volunteer first responders and firefighters. The legislation includes proposals for tuition assistance, loan forgiveness and increased access to mental health care for first responders who suffer from trauma.

“First responders in the Lehigh Valley are experiencing declining membership and financial hardship and they need this package of bills to boost their members,” McNeill said. “It’s devastating to think what would happen to communities without first responders and that is why we need to assist them in every way we can.”

The following bills in the package have been passed by the full House. Others are slated for upcoming consideration.

  • HB 269: Would exclude an eligible surviving spouse or minor children of a first responder from paying a realty transfer tax.
  • HB 732: Would exempt volunteer service providers from the Pennsylvania realty transfer tax.
  • HB 1673: Would allow volunteer fire relief money to be used for the retention of existing volunteer members.
  • HB 1705: Would authorize school districts to enact a tax credit against the property tax liability of active volunteers of a fire or EMS company.
  • HB 1773: Would create the Tuition Assistance for Active Volunteers Program for first responders.
  • HB 1780: Would exempt volunteer fire, rescue and ambulance companies from the Right-to-Know Law
  • HB 1786: Would target loan forgiveness to indebted college graduates who are active members of an emergency medical services agency, volunteer fire company, or volunteer rescue company.
  • HB 1816: Would raise Volunteer Loan Assistance Program loan limits by 10%.
  • HB 1839: Would authorize counties to enact a tax credit against the property tax liability of active volunteers of a fire or EMS company.
  • SB 146: Would make online training more readily available to current and prospective first responders. This legislation has passed both the House and the Senate.

“The companies across the state are in tough situations and our legislation would at least help them stay solvent,” McNeill said.