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Eye On Boise

Senate passes firefighter worker-comp bill

After more than an hour's debate, the Senate has passed SB 1336a, on firefighter cancers and workers compensation, on a 23-10 vote. The bill would change Idaho's worker compensation law to be like most states' in assuming that certain cancers are job-related for firefights, unless a preponderance of evidence showed otherwise. Backers of the bill, including Idaho firefighters and medical experts, said it's almost impossible for firefighters to prove they've inhaled certain substances that contributed to their cancers, because they're facing unknown hazards when they enter a burning building.

Some opponents said they they wanted the change also to apply to part-time and volunteer firefighters. "The firefighters are heroes," said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston. "I respect the work that they do, but I'm also concerned about our part-time and our volunteer firefighters, so therefore for this bill I will have to vote no."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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