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Retroactive Legislation Planned For Responders’ Benefits

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Items left by people paying their respects to the Granite Mountain Hotshots are displayed at a memorial. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Items left by people paying their respects to the Granite Mountain Hotshots are displayed at a memorial. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

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PRESCOTT, Ariz. (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Some of the firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire were only seasonal Prescott city employees so their families don’t qualify for full survivors’ benefits, but a legislative leader wants to change that.

House Speaker Andy Tobin says he’s drafting retroactive legislation to provide regular benefits to any responder who dies on state lands, such as where the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots died on June 30.

The Daily Courier reports that would qualify the survivors of the 13 deceased Hotshots for benefits such as health care.

Another bill planned by Tobin would have the state cover the costs of the death-related retirement benefits provided by Prescott.

Tobin says the seasonal firefighters’ deaths are a wake-up call because use of seasonal and part-time employees is increasingly common.

CBS Las Vegas reported Tuesday on an interview with the grieving mother and widow of Andrew Ashcraft, one of Hotshots who lost his life while battling the Yarnell blaze. His widow, Juliann Ashcraft, told CBS News that these benefits would be crucial in helping support and raise their children.

She added, “As shocked as I was that my husband went to work and never came home, I’m equally shocked in how the city has treated our family since then.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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