Wisconsin Senate sends first responder Worker’s Comp bill to Assembly

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill Tuesday that removes a barrier for professional police officers and firefighters to file a Worker’s Compensation claim when they get treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The bill awaits a hearing in the Assembly.

As the law is currently written, first responders must prove their trauma is at a higher level than the standard for their profession. In a high-stress job, that can throw out a lot of claims.

A bipartisan group of senators and representatives are trying to remove that standard in the legislation passed Tuesday, though they have tried before. The last session’s bill also included volunteer first responders and emergency medical technicians.

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said she would like to see those provisions added this time around.

“If volunteer firefighters are excluded, and that is the majority, that’s all but 162 of our fire departments in the state of Wisconsin,” Taylor said. “What are we doing?”

Evan Hafenbreadl, a spokesperson for Sen. André Jacque, R-DePere, one of the bill’s authors, said the issue with extending the bill to volunteers because they don’t pay into Worker’s Compensation, so it’s difficult to write provisions that allow them to pull from it.

Jacque and the other authors said they see this measure as a first step, and they hope to extend this to at least EMTs in the future.