ROCKINGHAM — Nonprofit first responders could eventually be eligible for state pensions.
North Carolina’s contingent of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last week introduced legislation that would “amend the Internal Revenue Code to include full-time nonprofit firefighters and emergency medical service workers in governmental pension plans,” according to a press release.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy of the 3rd Congressional District, who was joined by Reps. Richard Hudson and Dan Bishop, who both represent Richmond County, as well as Reps. Virginia Foxx, Patrick McHenry, David Rouzer and Chuck Edwards.
According to Murphy’s office, current law prohibits full-time nonprofit firefighters and EMS personnel from joining the state’s retirement system.
The legislation adds the following to the IRS code:
‘‘A plan shall not fail to be a ‘governmental plan’ under the preceding sentence solely because such plan allows participation by a public safety agency…solely with respect to the employees of such agency who are emergency response providers… substantially all of whose services as emergency response providers are in the performance of firefighting services or out-of-hospital emergency medical services for a political subdivision of a State under a contract between such public safety agency and the political subdivision of a State.’’
According to Murphy’s office, 74% of the state’s fire departments are nonprofit and employ 5,527 paid personnel who could be affected.
“North Carolinians depend on the selfless service of first responders every single day,” Murphy said in a statement. “It is only fitting that these dedicated individuals should be able to depend on the government to provide them with a reliable retirement plan. This bill will be critical in ensuring our brave first responders are taken care of when their call to service comes to an end.”
There are currently no first responders in Richmond County who would benefit from this legislation as all agencies are either municipal or volunteer, according to Emergency Services Director Bob Smith.
Our volunteer firefighters and EMS workers put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe,” said Bishop.”Their service should be commended, and they deserve access to the same retirement funds as their counterparts employed by the state. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation and thank our first responders for their continued service and sacrifice.”
“Firefighters and EMS workers keep our community safe and deserve our support,” said Hudson.”I am proud to join Rep. Murphy to introduce this legislation that would allow these nonprofit first responders to access the North Carolina state pension fund. I look forward to working with my N.C. colleagues to advance this commonsense bill in Congress.”
McHenry introduced a similar bill during the 117th Congress, according to Murphy’s office.