Skip to main content
State Seal State Seal State Seal
Home Button Home Button Home Button

Rep. Sweeney Gives Sponsor Testimony on Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure EMS Workers Can Retire with Dignity

October 3, 2023
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake) today testified in the House Pensions Committee on House Bill (HB) 261, bipartisan legislation to allow Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers to be covered under the public safety division of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS).

“Paramedics, EMTs and other EMS workers are called upon at a moment’s notice and thrust into some of the most difficult situations imaginable. They have to show up on everyone’s worst day and do incredibly labor-intensive work,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Unfortunately, PERS treats these heroes the same as any other public employee. HB 261 would give EMS workers a path to earning the same retirement as other first responders and offers a new tool to recruit and retain the next generation.”

Most EMS workers are also firefighters and therefore covered by the Police and Fire Pension Fund. However, some EMS workers are not also firefighters and instead fall under the regular division of PERS – meaning that they may only retire after 32 years of service, rather than 25 years. In the case of the City of Cleveland, this has resulted in paramedics “aging out” at the mandatory retirement age of 65 without full benefits or leaving early due to the stress of the job.

This legislation would allow current full-time, certified EMTs and paramedics not covered under the Police and Fire Pension Fund to choose whether or not to participate in the public safety division of the Public Employee Retirement System rather than regular PERS for the member’s future service. The election, once made, is irrevocable. New EMS workers would be automatically opted-in to the public safety division.

HB 261 now awaits further consideration by the House Pension Committee.