The Georgia Compensation Fund provides financial support to the families of public security officers who have died or been injured in the line of duty. Family members of public security officers who die under their duty are eligible to receive $ 150,000 from the state.
HB 1145 would allow the State Department of Administrative Services to provide money from the Compensation Fund to the families of public security officers who die within 45 days of being diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
Georgia Fallen Firefighters Foundation chairman Dennis Thayer, who works with Gullett on the legislation, said that since it is often difficult to determine where and how someone picks up COVID-19, family members do not have to prove that the officer caught the virus while he worked .
The deaths should have occurred between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 to qualify. Gullett said Georgia’s time frame begins with the first cases of COVID-19 in the state. The end date is likely to be changed to coincide with the end of the governor’s declared state of emergency. Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp extended the emergency order to March 24.
State Rep. Jesse Petrea, a Savannah Republicansaid that if the bill becomes law, he imagines that future legislative assemblies will have to make changes.
“We want to set a precedent here,” Petrea said. “And we may be dealing with COVID for 10 more years. Today we’re talking about right now. But we still have COVID, and I suppose it’s going to last a long time.”