The State Worker

Legislation extends injury benefits to Cal Fire firefighters

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, speaks during a 2015 committee hearing.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, speaks during a 2015 committee hearing. AP

State firefighters injured because of their work would receive up to one year of salary instead of worker’s compensation, if a measure that suddenly surfaced Tuesday becomes law.

Assembly Bill 1282, authored by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, gives Cal Fire rank-and-file firefighters and their supervisors the same paid-leave-of-absence entitlement that local firefighters, CHP officers and law enforcement officers in the Department of Justice receive when they are disabled by an injury caused by performance of their job duties.

“Despite longer workweeks and taking home a third less pay,” according to a fact sheet about the bill issued by Gray’s office, “statute fails to provide Cal Fire firefighters with the same injury protections afforded every other first responder in the state.”

The legislation started in February as a gambling regulation bill that the Assembly passed on a 78-0 vote in May before sending it to the Senate, where it was assigned inactive status in July. Then this week it surfaced as the Cal Fire injury-leave bill.

It’s not clear how much the proposal would cost or save taxpayers because the measure in its current form has never been heard or analyzed by a committee in either house. Technically, the bill has already cleared the lower chamber and now needs only Senate approval and a second concurring vote by the full Assembly to head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

State records show that political action committees with ties to the state firefighters’ union contributed $16,400 to Gray campaigns from January 2013 through June of this year.

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