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Joe C.
Democrat CT 2

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  • Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act

    by Representative Joe Courtney

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to congratulate the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Barletta) for his leadership on this legislation, which has been noted.



    As we are standing here today, there are probably thousands of calls happening all across the country for fire suppression, for medical emergencies, for people with all types of difficulties that volunteers--people who don't have to step up and train and spend all the hours and be available at the expense of their family time and their work time--will respond to these calls.

    And for a lot of communities that rely on volunteers, the issue of recruitment and retention and just trying to make the environment conducive for people to make that act of volunteering is a challenge that I think all of us hear about from our volunteer fire departments and first responders all across the Nation.

    So when this issue of the Affordable Care Act being possibly a requirement for the shared responsibilities of employers was out there, again, I applaud Mr. Barletta for stepping up, introducing this legislation, and following [[Page H204]] up with mail to the IRS Commissioner. They did respond almost exactly a year ago, saying that the regulations would not count bona fide volunteers in terms of the 50-employee count. But as was noted, I think it is always better to have it in statute rather than rely on the whims of administrative agencies that can change with the change of administration. So again, I think this is an example of how the country really wants us to operate.

    Again, if you look at the Affordable Care Act, since its passage, we have worked together to eliminate the 1099 filing requirement; we have worked together to make sure that our military families, through TRICARE, would have age 26 coverage, which was left out when the bill was initially filed; and here today, we are following up again with an example of commonsense fixes to the legislation, which is what I think the country really is looking for.

    I would also note that the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Larson) has legislation to restore tax exclusions which were on the books a number of years ago to help volunteer fire departments use property tax exemptions and equipment donations that had been treated as income by the IRS in past years.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

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