Police officers and widows claim death benefits bill is being blocked because of political retaliation
FOP says it is being punished for opposition to the pension and workers' comp reform bills. House budget chair says that's not true.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some police officers and their families claim political retaliation is the reason a bill that would improve their death benefits did not get a hearing Tuesday.
First responders and family members crowded a meeting of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Amy Ellis, the widow of slain Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis, and Ashley Rodman, whose husband, LMPD officer Nick Rodman, was killed in the line of duty last year, sat side-by-side in the hearing room.
“I feel like it's very important for me to hear my story,” Rodman told reporters.
She said she was prepared to testify about how she was denied some benefits after her husband's death because of a missing beneficiary form.
“In state law, if that form is not physically present, then the spouse ends up being left out,” Louisville FOP President Nicolai Jilek said.
House Bill 185 would fix that problem and plug other holes in the death benefits of first responders.
“This bill is very important for all first responders,” Rodman said.
But Rodman never got to tell her story. House Bill 185 was never called for a hearing, though supporters insist it was originally scheduled.
“Frankfort, there are a lot of games that are played here,” Jilek said.
Supporters claim the bill was pulled because of the FOP's opposition to the pension and workers' comp reform bills.
“I know that my husband would be livid if he knew that this was happening,” Rodman said.
After the meeting, supporters of the bill confronted committee chairman Rep. Steven Rudy. He said the bill was not heard, simply, because changes are being made.
“I'm not retaliating against anyone," said Rudy, a Republican from Paducah. "That bill has never been posted. I've talked to many people about it, but that's just not true."
When asked whether HB 185 will eventually be heard by his committee, Rudy said, “It's possible.”
Meanwhile, Rodman said she plans to keep up the pressure on behalf of her husband.
“I'm going to be his voice and my family's voice and the voice of all these other widows,” she said.
There is still time for the bill to get through both chambers, but the clock is ticking. The session ends in mid-April.
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