New Jersey bill S-1469 was signed into law today by Governor (and fellow Blue Hen) Chris Christie, removing a provision in the workers’ comp rules that changed the amount a spouse received when a firefighter or police officer died in the line of duty. Previously, spouses who remarry received a lump sum payment equal to about 100 weeks of compensation. Unmarried would receive lifetime benefits. About 4 firefighters and 3 police officers die in the line of duty in New Jersey each year.
New Jersey Senator Frank Madden co-sponsored the bill to help remedy a situation spouses often fall after a death-these spouses build a strong support network amongst the local religious organizations after the tragedy, but run afoul of these organizations later when the spouse finds another person but doesn’t remarry because it will stop the benefits. Opponents of the bill are concerned about the costs of an already over-burdened system.