COLUMBUS—State Representatives Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) and Candice Keller (R-Middletown) provided sponsor testimony in the House Ways and Means Committee for House Bill 575, legislation they jointly sponsored. House Bill 575 seeks to provide financial relief for volunteer firefighters and certain volunteer emergency personnel, and to incentivize Ohioans to continue to offer volunteer services to their communities.
House Bill 575 grants income tax credits for anyone who is a volunteer firefighter, first responder or emergency medical service technician. Among other eligibility requirements, a volunteer must have participated in at least 25 percent of all emergency response runs conducted by his or her department.
There are nearly 1,200 fire departments in Ohio, of which 70 percent are considered volunteer departments. Volunteer staff risk life and limb with no compensation and in the past four years, the number of those serving as volunteers has decreased by approximately 2,000.
“House Bill 575 supports the volunteers we rely on most in times of emergency. I’m honored to be joint-sponsoring legislation that will aid these individuals and help incentivize others to participate,” said Rep. Rezabek. “Several constituents of mine are affected by this bill in a positive way, and I am proud to be able to help carry this legislation.”
“This bill is by no means the end but the beginning of backing the firefighting community in the state of Ohio,” said Rep. Keller. “These men and women provide a vital community service by protecting lives and property with little to no compensation. I hope to see a speedy passage of this bill so these everyday heroes can receive the support they so desperately need.”
The income tax credits will have three tiers, each with a focus on length of volunteer participation:
• Between one and five years of service - $500/year
• Between six and ten years of service - $1,000/year
• At least 11 years of service - $2,000/year
House Bill 575 awaits further consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee.