Just over a week ago, I wrote about the Wisconsin bill to support the state’s residents and businesses during the pandemic. I was pissed because the bill purposely provided workman’s compensation to first responders who got sick with COVID-19 but not medical personnel or other hospital staff.
But I totally missed the final result as it appeared in the final bill that was passed in Madison and signed by the governor. The first responders got screwed too! They need to prove that they actually contracted the disease by coming into contact with someone who actually tested positive…while they were on the job. How the heck do you do that?
Republican legislative leaders at the last minute changed workers’ compensation protections for first responders in the state’s coronavirus relief package after the state’s chamber of commerce asked them to, according to state records.
The change, which was made after lawmakers already were on the floor in the state Assembly chamber last week, scaled back protections in the bill before them, requiring first responders infected with the virus to show they were exposed to someone with a confirmed case of the virus at work before they could receive workers’ compensation.
The move was made after a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce asked staff for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to either remove the protections or narrow them because of the potential fiscal effect on local governments and employers, according to records related to the bill amendment’s drafting.
The original proposal would have created a presumption that a worker with a positive test or diagnosis caught the virus while working, without requiring proof the worker was exposed on the job.
“We thought the original language was, frankly, a little too open-ended by creating an absolute presumption,” WMC lobbyist Chris Reader said in an interview. “There was no evidence required like current law requires.”emphasis mine
We thought the original language was, frankly, a little too open-ended by creating an absolute presumption: YES exactly, because the burden of proof for a police officer or fireman who may catch the disease will be impossible to pinpoint…and we need them to do their jobs…and need them to know that we’ve go their backs. They are in harm’s way…we all know that…but now in ways that no one would have imagined.
So to Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers…firemen…EMTs…pay attention…money talks!