BOISE -- A group of about 150 firefighters from across the state are lobbying lawmakers to have certain types of cancers covered under Idaho's workers compensation law. The group says research has shown the cancers affect firefighters more because of their occupation. The firefighters went to the Statehouse Monday to ask legislators for a hearing on the matter.
"This is an important bill and we are asking them to hear our bill," said Rob Shopock, Executive Vice President, Professional Firefighters of Idaho. "It's sad when a bill gets held in a drawer and doesn't get vetted in a committee."
The 150 firefighters from Boise to Sandpoint to the Teton Valley quietly and peacefully filled the House and Senate rotundas Monday. The men and women overlooking the very lawmakers who could make the change they've been requesting for the past 15 years, expanding Idaho's workers compensation law to more easily cover certain cancers.
"The way it's set up now, if a firefighter got a certain type of cancer, they would need to provide evidence as to what day they got that cancer, what fire that cancer occurred on," said Shoplock. "This changes the presumption to where it's presumed that the firefighter got the cancer while doing the job, as long as they've had physicals, they're not a habitual tobacco user. There are parameters to where it's not carte blanche."
In the past, the measure has passed the Senate, but stalled in the House. But through the years the Professional Firefighters of Idaho haven't given up their fight. They believe their hard work will pay off this year.
"We have 36 co-sponsors from the House that have come on and signed their name to the bill saying that this is good policy and would like to see it pass," said Shoplock. "So we're just continuing to build the coalition of legislators that help support the firefighters in the state of Idaho."
In the past, lawmakers opposed to the bill say they're concerned about the possible burden it would put on taxpayers.