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March 18, 2002
Fla. Planning to Double Death Benefits
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rida lawmakers are moving to double the death benefits for the families of firefighters and law enforcement officers killed on the job, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Florida House unanimously passed such a measure last week, and the legislation is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the governor.

Survivors of officers and firefighters killed on the job currently qualify for a $25,000 death benefit. The bill raises that to $50,000, according to the Post.

Likewise, in cases where officers and firefighters are killed during the commission of a felony - including arson - families would receive $150,000, instead of the current $75,000.

Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, told the Post that he sponsored the bill because firefighters, police, correction officers, and probation officers are in a more dangerous line of work than most public servants and should therefore receive an additional benefit.

In addition, the bill expands a voucher program that gives survivors free tuition at state universities. While children now qualify for the free tuition for only 120 credit hours, until they're 25, the legislation would extend the waiver to post-graduate degrees. Spouses would be eligible, too, provided they began a degree program within five years of the fatality.

The fee waiver would end after the 10th anniversary of the firefighter's or officer's death.

To view the Palm Beach Post story, click here.

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