Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”
Joined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”
Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”
The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”
FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”
Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”
More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”
For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:
Featuring Dr. Bill Whaley.
Sponsered by the Georgia Cancer Specialists.
Dr. Whaley and BKP talk HIllary’s Health and National Healthcare.
The City of Ellijay has joined the Board of Commissioners and the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority in appealing the Georgia Department of Community Health’s decision regarding Piedmont’s Emergency Department and Gilmer County’s Certificate of Need. The vote came during last night’s City Council Meeting. The Council voted 4-0 with Lynelle Stewart abstaining from the vote stating she just didn’t know the effect this would have on the Emergency Department that is supposed to come to the county and she did not understand the issue.
Discussion also began in the public comments from several local business owners and citizens to consider allowing the sale of wine from local wineries during city events to fund 501c3 efforts and organizations. Sherryl Adams of Mountain Treasures began the conversation saying, “Ellijay is nationally known for its wine” due to publications like Wine Chronicles and national awards in competitions. She asked the council to consider one day event licenses to allow the sale at local events such as the 4th of July celebration, though Mayor Al Hoyle noted an ordinance change would not be able to pass before that event. Members of the council showed interest in listening to the ideas of potential change including David Westmoreland who mentioned options for one day licenses to include wine sellers while still considering the local businesses that sell beer, but wanted to support the charities via the 501c3.
Mayor Hoyle stated he would be consulting the city’s Alcohol Committee to consider the potential change.
After a brief discussion involving the property owner and a neighbor, the Council did vote 4-1 to rescind their Condemnation of the Johnson House in the City. Katie Lancey was the Council woman in opposition stating in the meeting she had not seen a specific plan or written document to guarantee the residence wouldn’t return to its previous state.
Financially, the City Council accepted the 2015 Audit as well as approved Budget Amendments to reflect the 2015 Actuals. After a presentation from Pamela Fox of the Marshall Insurance Agency and Barber Wilson and Chris Walker of J. Smith Lanier & Co, the Council approved the Property and Liability Insurance Proposal by Glatfelter Public Practice at $35,888 (p. 82). Check out the Audit and Financials as well as the Insurance proposals here.
One final note of the meeting came as the Mayor tabled the discussion for a vacancy in the Historic Preservation Committee due to a lack of nominations for the position.