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McMaster signs bill to provide death benefits to first responders

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(The Center Square) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster recently signed into law a measure to provide death benefits to the families of police officers, firefighters and other state officials who die in the line of duty.

S.108 mandates a one-time death benefit of $75,000 for those killed in the line of duty. The benefit is increased to $150,000 if the death results from an “unlawful and intentional act of another person” or “an accident that occurs during a fresh pursuit or responding to an emergency.”

According to a constituent newsletter from state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, the bill’s lead sponsor, the law applies to constables enforcing criminal laws; coroners and deputy coroners; corrections officers; emergency medical technicians; law enforcement officers, professional and volunteer firefighters and reserves with part-time police powers.

According to a fiscal estimate from the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, which cites a Public Employee Benefit Authority analysis, the measure could “increase death benefits” by roughly $1 million annually. However, there would be “no measurable impact to the South Carolina Retirement System.”

The payments would come from participating employers’ contributions to the Preretirement Death Benefit Program under the Police Officers Retirement System or the South Carolina Retirement System. Payments to volunteers, whether emergency medical services, law enforcement or fire department, would be paid from the State Accident Fund.

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