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Arizona Senate passes bill boosting firefighter cancer coverage

(Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate has passed a bill designed to boost protections for firefighters and other first responders who are diagnosed with cancers linked to the workplace.

The proposal from Republican Sen. Heather Carter ensures that listed cancers contracted by firefighters are irrefutably covered by workers compensation insurance. The proposal tightens rules enacted in 2017 that said certain cancers were presumed to be caused by workplace exposures.

Several Republican lawmakers argued against the measure during a lengthy floor debate Wednesday. They said the costs to cities and towns were unknown and could be high. They also said family history or outside work exposures that were shown to have caused the cancers could no longer be taken into account.

Carter countered that the costs were minimal and that insurance companies were unfairly denying coverage.

The bill passed on a 25-4 vote and now goes to the House.

Four other bills were introduced in the House and Senate that aim to give more protections to spouses and families of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.

One of the bills, SB 1435, would give money and benefits immediately to the spouse of a fallen law enforcement officer for housing and other residential needs.

“They would have up to $5,000 a month and up to $60,000 total per year to help bridge to get to the next benefit package,” Republican Sen. David Gowan told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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