Iowa lawmakers consider changes to law enforcement, firefighter benefits



(The Center Square) – The Iowa House Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill Thursday that would make changes to benefit plans for firefighters and law enforcement officers.

House Study Bill 745 would allow coverage of health care costs for work-related injuries and adds mental health incapacity as a reason for accidental disability retirement.

The bill has been discussed for five years, said Jason Feaker, second vice-president for the Iowa State Police Association and a captain with the Waterloo Police Department.

“We believe that this will get us on track with some of the PTSD that a lot of our members deal with daily,” Feaker told the committee. “This will get us in line with everyone else with workman’s comp.”

If enacted, the bill would raise the employees’ contribution into the state pension system from 9.4% to 9.55%, a reduction from an increase to 9.64% that is in the bill, said Dan Cassady, executive director of the 411 system that oversees firefighters and law enforcement officers’ retirement system.

The second section of the bill would remove the state taxes from pensions awarded to surviving spouses of law enforcement officers or firefighters who are younger than age 55 or not disabled. The tax break would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2024, if the bill passes.

The Iowa League of Cities is opposed to the bill.

“There are cities that are currently shrinking in population. There are cities that have not kept up with the population increases of the state that this bill does affect,” said Daniel Stalder of the Iowa League of Cities. “These are pass-through costs largely through property taxes and our smaller cities don’t appreciate that conversation happening.”

The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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