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Benefits for injured police officers would be studied under bill advancing in House

House Photography file photo

Minnesota could take a step to addressing what advocates say is inadequate support for young police officers permanently injured in the line of duty.

HF1577, sponsored by Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville), would require the Department of Labor and Industry to study benefits provided to disabled or injured policy officers by Jan. 15, 2022.

On Wednesday, the bill was approved 13-0 by the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and referred to the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee.

Its companion, SF1547, is sponsored by Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault) and awaits action by the Senate Labor and Industry Policy Committee.

"There is a gap in the pension system," Koznick said. "This bill will hopefully identify and formally recognize that gap so that we can fill in that broken part of the system."

Minnesota police officers who are disabled performing duty-specific work that is inherently dangerous are entitled to 60% of their average salary by the Public Employee Retirement Association if they have worked fewer than 20 years.

Officers can also receive workers' compensation, but that can be capped, according to Wendy Wulff, a bill advocate who said her husband sustained a 2005 traumatic brain injury while working as a Minneapolis police officer.

She said the Public Employee Retirement Association agreed to study the gaps in the system in 2008 but never did.

Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said the workers' compensation law, which includes the cap, needs to be discussed further.

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