Senate unanimously enacts Libby bill to protect health insurance and retirement fund for firefighters and law enforcement officers

Posted: June 05, 2019 | Senator Libby

Legislation from Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, to protect the Retired County and Municipal Law Enforcement Officers and Municipal Firefighters Health Insurance Program was enacted in the Maine Senate in a unanimous vote Wednesday.

“This program was established to ensure that the men and women who serve our communities and protect us in our time of need have the benefits they need and deserve,” said Sen. Libby. “Future lawmakers shouldn’t raid this fund to fill gaps elsewhere in the state’s budget, and under LD 1664, they won’t even be able to.”

LD 1664, “An Act To Place Funds for the Retired County and Municipal Law Enforcement Officers and Municipal Firefighters Health Insurance Program into a Trust,” moves the program’s funds into a trust overseen by the State Treasurer so they cannot be taken and used for other budget items.

Health care and retirement benefits are an important part of attracting and retaining local public safety professionals.

Paul Gaspar, executive director of the Maine Association of Police, was involved in the original setup of the fund. He spoke at a recent public hearing on LD 1664 and a companion bill, saying that “LDs 1664 and 1674 represent that continued stewardship, along with the program administrators, to improve and allow the program to continue to be successful for future first responders.”

Speaking to the success of the program and its intent, Ronnie Green, of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine, said, “It has done what it was intended to do, which is give a little bit of help to law enforcement officers and firefighters with health insurance in retirement so they are not stuck working well beyond their retirement age just so they would have health insurance.”

LD 1664 has now been sent to Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.