Governor Larry Hogan has announced the introduction of two pieces of legislation directed toward honoring the service and sacrifice of Maryland first responders and professional firefighters in the 2019 legislative session. The governor made the announcement at Eastport Fire Station 36 in Annapolis, Md. Governor Hogan was joined by Professional Firefighters of Maryland President Mike Rund, Annapolis City Firefighters Local 1926 President John Wardell, IAFF District Vice President Andy Pantelis, IAFF Montgomery County President Jeff Buddle, Senior Advisor Keiffer Mitchell, and Homeland Security Director Walter “Pete” Landon, more than 50 Maryland firefighters, as well as numerous local leaders and community members.
“I have been moved countless times by the selflessness of our firefighters and first responders,” said Governor Hogan. “You deserve and have earned our respect and our gratitude, and making sure you get that respect isn’t a political issue – it’s just common sense.”
The Hogan administration is aware of the dangerous situations first responders encounter on a daily basis that can lead to serious health concerns, including certain types of cancers. The governor is introducing Workers’ Compensation – Medical Presumptions legislation to add kidney or renal cell cancer and urinary cancer to the types of cancers considered occupational diseases for firefighters under Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws.
The governor’s Hometown Heroes Act of 2019 will exempt retired law enforcement, fire, rescue, correctional officer, or emergency response personnel from state tax on all retirement income specific to their service as a first responder and public safety worker. Working with the first responder community in 2017, the Hogan administration was successful in passing the hometown heroes benefit so that first responders can exempt the first $15,000 of their retirement income from state taxes. This year, new legislation will fully exempt all retirement income of firefighters, emergency services personnel, police officers, and correctional officers. The legislation also proposes to lower the age of eligibility to 50.
The Hogan administration has introduced House Bill 231 to increase the amount a volunteer firefighter can exempt from their state taxes to $10,000. The current maximum exemption is $7,000.
Governor Hogan has been a champion of first responders the last four years and intends to continue his strong record of support for Maryland law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency services personnel, and correctional officers across the state.