Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Actby Representative Mike Kelly
Posted on 2014-01-08
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Mr. KELLY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank my good
friend and fellow Representative from Pennsylvania, Lou Barletta, for
introducing this legislation that is so vital to the safety of millions
of people across our state and our country.
Merriam-Webster defines a volunteer as ``a person who does work without getting paid to do it.'' It defines an employee as ``a person who works for another person or company for wages or salary.'' Yet the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), defying these clear definitions and common sense, considers volunteer firefighters to be employees and has not clarified whether or not they are subject to the employer mandate under President Obama's health care law.
In Butler Township, back home in Western Pennsylvania, more than 17,000 people rely on approximately 130 volunteer firefighters to keep that community safe. Ed Kirkwood, the manager of Butler Township, has stated that by his calculations, taxes in Butler Township would have to be more than doubled to comply with the federal mandate and maintain all of Butler's volunteer firefighters.
I've spoken time and again about how the unintended consequences of the president's health care law will hurt Americans. In this particular instance, it threatens to bankrupt communities and endanger the public all because the IRS doesn't know the meaning of what it is to be a volunteer firefighter. This is unacceptable. It must be changed, and Mr. Barletta's bill, H.R. 3685--the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act--will do just that. I give my emphatic support to this bill and ask that the IRS correct its definition of volunteerism before Pennsylvania communities which rely on these heroes have to pay for its lack of common sense.