October 03, 2023
To: All NC Fire Service Personnel
RE: Misinformation Concerning General Assembly Budget Negotiations
During the past two weeks some incorrect information was provided by another fire service group concerning the actions of the NC State Firefighters’ Association (NCSFA) regarding budget negotiations within the NC General Assembly. The information provided on social media and in newsletters indicated the NCSFA had opposed permanent funding of firefighter cancer insurance. It also indicated that this other group had saved the day by protecting the funding. These were baseless claims and lies. Just as passage of firefighter cancer was a top priority in 2021 for NCSFA, so was continual funding a priority in this year’s General Assembly session.
While the NC State Firefighters’ Association works tirelessly for every firefighter in North Carolina, it is the firefighters, both career and volunteer, that hold the success of the passage of firefighter friendly legislation, by speaking with and contacting their representatives.
Two years ago, the NC State Firefighters’ Association, working with the NC Association of Fire Chiefs, began collecting and analyzing data from the Department of Insurance concerning the Gross Premium Assessment (often called the Gross Premium Tax) and formulating a plan to permanently fund Firefighter Cancer Insurance from portions of proceeds previously going to the Volunteer Workers Comp Fund (VSWCF). Last Fall, the joint legislative Committee of NCSFA/NCAFC reviewed language to accomplish that, which was later provided to Senator Todd Johnson representing Cabarrus and Union Counties, and became SB 326, which passed the Senate this year with bipartisan support. That bill would have permanently funded Firefighter Cancer Insurance into the future, as well as fixed some issues with the Volunteer Safety Workers Comp Program (VSWCF).
This plan of action is well documented in legislative messaging from our organization. TO BE CLEAR, NCSFA DID NOT OPPOSE CANCER FUNDING IN ANY MANNER, AND THE GROUP PRESENTING THIS MISINFORMATION HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND ACTIONS TRYING TO SECURE PERMANENT FUNDING THROUGH SB 326.
The concerns the NCSFA had with the budget, as presented, were as follows:
– It did not include the language from SB 326 which would have permanently funded cancer and kept workers comp (VSWCF) reserves funded at an adequate level.
– It indicated the cancer pilot program worked, but then gave the Department of Insurance responsibility for managing it, who does not have the staff, and loses the quality management it had during the pilot program with over 115 claims.
– It continued to reduce the reserve funding for VSWCF and took responsibility away from the Fire and Rescue Commission, whose VSWCF Board had successfully managed the program for over a decade. It also limited the ability for local agents to work with departments, bringing into question how local departments would acquire this coverage.
– It removed the Commissioner of Insurance as State Fire Marshal, bringing confusion into the operation of fire service programs, and ended a system that has worked since the mid 1900’s.
The history and actions of the NC State Firefighters’ Association on these issues and working with the Chief’s Association are well documented. Just follow the facts.
The NCSFA continues to work toward a budget correction on these issues, whether now or in the short session of the General Assembly next year, and will seek passage of legislation that permanently funds Cancer Insurance for Firefighters and maintains a viable self-funded workers compensation program for volunteers.
The Board of Directors of the NC State Firefighters’ Association