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107th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     107-786

======================================================================



 
             HOMETOWN HEROES SURVIVORS BENEFITS ACT OF 2002

                                _______
                                

 November 14, 2002.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Sensenbrenner, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 5334]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 5334) to ensure that a public safety officer who 
suffers a fatal heart attack or stroke while on duty shall be 
presumed to have died in the line of duty for purposes of 
public safety officer survivor benefits, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Vote of the Committee............................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     3
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     3
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     3
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion.......................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     5
Markup Transcript................................................     6

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 5334 ensures that the survivors of a public safety 
officer who dies from a heart attack or fatal stroke while on 
duty or within 24 hours of a triggering occurrence shall 
qualify for a death benefit, currently set at $262,100, under 
the Public Safety Officers Benefit program. Currently a heart 
attack or stroke must be accompanied by a traumatic event, 
meaning a wound or other condition of the body caused by 
external force, including injuries by bullets, smoke 
inhalation, explosives, sharp instruments, blunt objects or 
other physical blows, chemicals, electricity, climatic 
conditions, infectious diseases, radiation, and bacteria. 
Excluded are occupational injuries, such as stress and strain. 
H.R. 5334 would effectively erase any distinction between 
traumatic and occupational injuries.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    The Public Safety Officers Benefit Program (PSOB) was 
enacted in 1976. It was not meant as a form of insurance or 
automatic benefit, but as a recognition for service that 
uniquely involved a direct risk to the well being of the public 
servant in question. Senator John McClellan stated during 
debate that the bill ``is not health insurance; but it does 
provide for payment if an officer is killed in the line of 
duty, either by accident or by willful assault by a criminal.'' 
\1\ In addition, comments were made by Senator Hruska in 
support of the conceptual meaning of the PSOB program, stating, 
``While it is important that the survivors of public safety 
officers who are tragically slain be provided for, it is even 
more important that steps be taken to avoid unnecessary deaths 
of police and firefighters. The Law Enforcement Assistance 
Administration, which will administer this program, firmly 
believes that many deaths could be avoided if preventive 
actions were taken. By preventive action, I mean assuring that 
these public safety officers are in good physical and mental 
condition.'' \2\ Since it's inception, PSOB has always required 
an element of intervention and causation, either from a second 
party, in the case of criminal intervention, or by conditions 
of employment unique to the profession of public service, such 
as smoke inhalation or chemical exposure. This causation had to 
be traumatic in nature in order for the program benefit to be 
triggered.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Cong. Rec. S 11837-38, (July 19, 1976).
    \2\ 122 Cong. Rec. 30712.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Heart attack and stroke deaths occur frequently amongst 
public safety officers, and account for nearly half of all 
firefighter fatalities. However, such heart attacks and strokes 
must be accompanied by a traumatic injury in order to be 
covered by the PSOB program. Claims are uncertain when a heart 
attack or stroke is involved relating to what qualifies as a 
direct and proximate result of actions or harms suffered while 
in the line of duty. Precedent has dictated that an officer who 
suffered a heart attack while struggling with a suspect, was 
ultimately denied benefits under this program when the court 
determined that a ``struggle'' was not sufficient to rise to 
the level of ``injury.'' \3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\ Smykowski v. United States, 647 F.2d 1103 (Ct. Cl. 1981).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 3796, the Bureau of Justice Assistance 
(BJA) is allowed to determine whether or not a public safety 
officer has died as a direct or proximate cause of a personal 
injury sustained in the line of duty, and if such criteria is 
met the Bureau is directed to pay a monetary benefit, currently 
at $262,100, to such officers surviving family members. 
Currently, such benefits are not being paid to fatal heart 
attack or fatal stroke victims who are on duty unless a 
traumatic injury coexists with the occurrence of heart attack 
or stroke.

                                Hearings

    No hearings were held on H.R. 5334.

                        Committee Consideration

    On October 9, 2002, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 5334 by voice vote, a 
quorum being present.

                         Vote of the Committee

    There were no recorded votes on H.R. 5334.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    H.R. 5334 authorizes mandatory spending. Public Safety 
Officers who decease as a result of a heart attack or stroke 
while in the line of duty or within 24 hours of a triggering 
effect are granted a monetary benefit for their survivors, 
regardless of whether a traumatic injury is present at the time 
of the heart attack or stroke.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of House rule XIII is inapplicable because 
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or 
increased tax expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 5334, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, November 1, 2002.
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 5334, the Hometown 
Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2002.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz, who can be reached at 226-2860.
            Sincerely,
                                  Dan L. Crippen, Director.

Enclosure

cc:
        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member
H.R. 5334--Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2002.

                                SUMMARY

    Under current law, the families of public safety officers 
who have died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of 
duty are eligible for a one-time payment of $262,100. The 
amount of this payment is adjusted each year for inflation. For 
incidents occurring on or after January 1, 2002, H.R. 5334 
would extend that benefit to families of public safety officers 
who have died as a result of a heart attack or stroke suffered 
while on duty or within 24 hours after participating in a 
training exercise or responding to an emergency situation.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5334 would increase direct 
spending by $28 million in fiscal year 2003 and by about $100 
million over the 2003-2007 period. H.R. 5334 contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would not affect the 
budgets of State, local, or tribal governments.

                ESTIMATED COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

    The estimated budgetary impact of H.R. 5334 is shown in the 
following table. The costs of this legislation fall within 
budget function 750 (administration of justice).

                                     By Fiscal Year, in Millions of Dollars
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       2003     2004     2005     2006     2007
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDING \1\
Estimated Budget Authority                                                28       17       18       18       19

Estimated Outlays                                                         28       17       18       18       19
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. In addition, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 5334 would increase discretionary spending by less than $1
  million annually, assuming the availability of appropriated funds.

                           BASIS OF ESTIMATE

    Based on information from the Department of Justice and 
from associations representing police officers, firefighters, 
and emergency medical technicians, CBO expects about 65 cases 
each year in which public safety officers die of heart attacks 
or strokes while on duty or within 24 hours after participating 
in a training exercise or responding to an emergency. Under the 
provisions of H.R. 5334, each officer's family would be 
eligible for a one-time payment of $262,100. That amount is 
adjusted annually for inflation. Thus, CBO estimates that 
enacting the bill would increase direct spending by about $15 
million annually. Because the bill would authorize payments for 
deaths that occurred since January 2002, we estimate payments 
in 2003 would total $28 million.
    In addition, under the provisions of H.R. 5334, public 
safety officers who have been permanently disabled as a result 
of a heart attack or stroke suffered while on duty or within 24 
hours of a training exercise or emergency response would be 
eligible for a one-time payment of $262,100, adjusted annually 
for inflation; however, this payment would be subject to the 
availability of appropriations. Based on information from the 
Department of Justice and from associations representing public 
safety officers, CBO estimates that any such costs would be 
less than $1 million annually because of the small number of 
cases likely to be affected.

              INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND PRIVATE-SECTOR IMPACT

    H.R. 5334 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in UMRA and would not affect the budgets of 
State, local, or tribal governments.

                         ESTIMATE PREPARED BY:

Federal Costs: Mark Grabowicz (226-2860)
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Angela Seitz 
    (225-3220)
Impact on the Private Sector: Paige Piper/Bach (226-2940)

                         ESTIMATE APPROVED BY:

Peter H. Fontaine
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for 
this legislation in article I, section 8, clause 18 of the 
Constitution.

               Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion

    The short title of H.R. 5334 is the ``Hometown Heroes 
Survivors Benefits Act of 2002.''
    H.R. 5334 mandates a presumption that any death of a public 
safety officer, which is either the direct or proximate result 
of a heart attack or stroke, if suffered while on duty or 
within 24 hours after participating in a training exercise or 
responding to an emergency situation, is sustained in the line 
of duty. As such, the resulting death would be given full 
recognition under the Public Safety Officers Benefit Act, and 
such survivors, in accordance with existing provisions, would 
be given a monetary award, currently set at $262,100, by the 
Bureau of Justice Assistance. Applicability of H.R. 5334 would 
be set to apply to all deaths occurring on or after January 1, 
2002.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italics and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

 SECTION 1201 OF THE OMIBUS CRIME CONTROL AND SAFE STREETS ACT OF 1968

                                payments

    Sec. 1201. (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (k) For purposes of this section, if a public safety 
officer dies as the direct and proximate result of a heart 
attack or stroke suffered while on duty or within 24 hours 
after participating in a training exercise or responding to an 
emergency situation, that officer shall be presumed to have 
died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury 
sustained in the line of duty.

                           Markup Transcript



                            BUSINESS MEETING

                       WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2002

                  House of Representatives,
                                Committee on the Judiciary,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:25 a.m., in 
Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James 
Sensenbrenner, Jr. [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Now, pursuant to notice, I call up 
the bill, H.R. 5334, and move its recommendation to the House. 
Without objection, the bill will be considered as read and open 
for amendment at any point.
    [The bill, H.R. 5334, follows:]
    
    
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. And the Chair recognizes himself 
for 5 minutes to explain the bill.
    In 1981 Judge Kunzig of the United States Court of Claims 
handed his opinion in Smykowski v. U.S. by stating, ``We would 
welcome legislation in which Congress addresses with 
specificity the application of the PSOBA to heart ailment 
situations.'' It may be 21 years later, but Congress is finally 
taking the good judge up on his offer.
    H.R. 5334, the ``Hometown Hero Survivor Benefits Act of 
2002'' introduced by Mr. Etheridge of North Carolina, attempts 
to clarify exactly how the Public Safety Officers Benefit 
Program is to be administered when a public safety officer 
suffers a fatal heart attack or a stroke while on duty or 
within 24 hours of an officer's response to an emergency 
situation or participation in a training exercise.
    When addressing the Public Safety Officer Benefit Program, 
it is important to remember that this program is not intended 
to be a Federal insurance policy. State and local government 
entities generally provide insurance for their employees, and 
it has not been brought to their attention that public safety 
officers are lacking in insurance coverage.
    Instead, the Committee must must address the issue which 
has been brought forward; namely, an ambiguity in the current 
statute. I believe this bill provides the Bureau of Justice 
assistance with the direction they require in reviewing and 
granting those benefits to deserving and qualified public 
safety officers who dedicate themselves to the public interest 
and pay the ultimate price for the public good.
    Without objection, all Members may insert opening 
statements at the record at this point.
    Mr. Watt. Mr. Chairman.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman from North Carolina, 
Mr. Watt.
    Mr. Watt. I might strike the last word just for a second.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman is recognized for 5 
minutes.
    Mr. Watt. And I know the gentleman is trying to move this, 
and I do this only because Mr. Etheridge has beaten up on me so 
much because he is from my home State. I probably heard more 
about this bill than anybody else on the Committee. So I think 
it is a good bill. I want to be able to tell him I said that in 
the Committee. So I yield back.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. An additional copy of the 
transcript will be ordered for the gentleman from North 
Carolina.
    Are there amendments? If there are no amendments, the Chair 
notes the presence of a reporting quorum. The question occurs 
on the motion to report the bill H.R. 5334 favorably.
    Those in favor will say aye.
    Opposed, no.
    The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it, and the 
motion to report favorably is adopted. Without objection, the 
Chair is authorized to move to go to conference pursuant to 
House rule.
    Without objection, the staff is directed to make any 
technical and conforming changes, and all Members will be given 
2 days as provided by House rules in which to submit additional 
dissenting, supplemental, or minority views.
    This concludes the business before the Committee--oh, 
before adjourning the Committee, Mr. Gekas asked me to tell 
Members of the Immigration Subcommittee that there will be a 
markup immediately following my banging the gavel. The 
Committee is adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 11:56 a.m., the Committee was adjourned.]