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Police look to expand Conn. workers' comp law

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 20, 2013 at 10:04 am •  Published: April 20, 2013

City and town officials have opposed the legislation, claiming it would be an expensive, unfunded state mandate.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said the cost of an individual PTSD case could range from several hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million, depending on the circumstances and duration of the claim. CCM said towns and cities already offer health insurance, disability leaves and employee assistance programs to workers suffering from mental and emotional problems.

CCM also expressed concern the bill could expose municipalities to a potential fraud.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Fairfield Republican whose district includes Newtown, said that he supports lawmakers looking at the issue but that the language needs to be carefully written.

McKinney said he knows from the experience of first responders at Sandy Hook and other gruesome scenes that "there are those instances that cause trauma for which there is no coverage."

Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said there is an interest in the General Assembly in exploring a uniform way of dealing with trauma following mass casualties.

"Certainly folks were talking about that when we did pass the special legislation in the wake of the Newtown tragedy," Williams said.

As of Tuesday, state records showed only $21,000 had been raised so far for the special charitable fund created by lawmakers in March. Linda J. Cimino, director of the Judicial Branch's Office of Victim Services, said she had received 27 applications from workers. Of those, 10 applicants revealed they were seeking reimbursement for missed wages because of mental health counseling.

Legislative leaders said they are optimistic that various corporations and organizations that pledged money to the fund will ultimately come through with the promised money. Several contacted by The Associated Press said the donations were being processed.

Meanwhile, public service announcements urging members of the public to donate to the Sandy Hook fund benefiting the workers are expected to begin airing soon.

"We're confident that the money is going to come in," said Brown, the police union lawyer.