Tragedy in western Nebraska prompts legislators to act in an effort to make sure first responders incapacitated on duty keep their health insurance.
In late 2015, Deuel County Deputy Mike Hutchinson was nearly killed serving an arrest warrant. Unable to return to duty, Hutchinson lost health insurance in June.
“We have a priority to support the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us. We cannot let what happened to Mike happen again,” Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, sponsor of LB 444, tells colleagues during legislative floor debate.
LB 444 would prohibit a city or county from canceling health insurance for incapacitated first responders. If the person could not return to work in a year, coverage could be dropped.
Initially, the bill included only law enforcement. An amendment expanded it to include all emergency personnel.
Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston questions whether the Unicameral is acting based on only one incident.
“I understand these things, but I also don’t believe that we should just put a bill together for one situation,” Albrecht says.
Hutchinson was shot four times when he attempted to serve an arrest warrant December 3rd of 2015 in Big Springs. The suspect was out of jail on an attempted first-degree murder charge from Colorado. He was shot and killed by the Deuel County Sheriff after he shot and wounded Hutchinson.
Hutchinson suffered severe internal injuries. He has undergone multiple surgeries. He has not been cleared by his doctors to do any type of work. Hutchinson lost insurance coverage in June of 2016, because he couldn’t work the required 30 hours a week.
LB 444 has advanced to the second round of debate on a 33-to-4 vote.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]