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New Iowa law helps families of fallen officers, firefighters

A new Iowa law will set aside part of the state's lottery revenues to help the families of firefighters and law enforcement officers keep insurance after their deaths.

Posted: Jul 4, 2019 7:11 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A new Iowa law will set aside part of the state's lottery revenues to help the families of firefighters and law enforcement officers keep insurance after their deaths.

The Des Moines Register reports the law that took effect earlier this week will allow the Iowa Lottery to provide $100,000 to a new Public Safety Survivor Benefits Fund. It will provide money to organizations assisting the families of firefighters and law enforcement officers who die on duty by helping cover their health or accident insurance costs.

"This will help with a significant real-world concern for the families in these tragic circumstances," Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said in statement.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the legislation in May, following a years-long discussion about how to help families of fallen firefighters and law enforcement officers.

"Insurance coverage is one of the immediate concerns their survivors can face, and it's right that we find a way to help them continue that coverage," state Rep. Mike Sexton, a Rockwell City Republican, said in a statement.

Before 2018, family members could not stay on a firefighter or law enforcement officer's insurance after his or her death.

Starting last year, the state and county and city governments were allowed to pay all or part of the insurance costs for surviving family members, but not all agencies can afford it. The new fund will help families who don't receive full support from a government agency.

"This is something that hits home for all of us as we think about the men and women who are working to keep us safe, particularly during a busy holiday week," Iowa Lottery CEO Matt Strawn said earlier this week, when officials had a news conference at the Iowa Peace Officer Memorial at the State Capitol.

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