Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2007

HJR 743: Joint Subcommittee Studying Incentives for Fire & Rescue Squad Volunteers

September 24, 2007

The third meeting of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Incentives for Fire and Rescue Squad Volunteers was held on September 24, 2007, with Delegate Tom Rust as chair. Scott Kezman, an attorney with Kaufman & Canoles, attended the meeting to provide the members with information concerning Benshoff v. City of Virginia Beach.

Benshoff v. City of Virginia Beach

Scott Kezman, an attorney with Kaufman & Canoles, discussed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) case [Benshoff v. City of Virginia Beach, 180 F.3d 186 (1999)] involving the City of Virginia Beach and several of its career firefighters who also volunteered to do the same jobs for volunteer rescue squads within the city. The firefighters argued they should be paid overtime in accordance with FLSA for the hours they served as volunteers. The court at every level, all of the way up to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, found in favor of the city and denied the overtime pay to the firefighters. The courts determined that because the firefighters were not required to volunteer with the rescue squads and the city did not control the rescue squads, their schedules, and who their volunteers were, the FLSA overtime pay regulations were inapplicable.

The problem, however, is that each locality and volunteer situation in the Commonwealth is different so that in order to decide whether the FLSA is applicable in situations similar to Virginia Beach, the locality needs to apply for an opinion letter from the Department of Labor or be subject to a case-by-case court analysis. Neither of these options are inexpensive. The only other real way to fix any perceived problem would require action at the federal level.

Proposed Legislation

Next, the chairman led the joint subcommittee in a discussion about whether they want to make recommendations for legislation to be introduced in the 2008 General Assembly Session and if so, what would it be? He gave a thorough review of the legislative proposals which had been mentioned in their first two meetings and asked the members which if any they could support. He also asked them for any other proposals they might have.

A majority of the members agreed on the following four proposals, for purposes of an initial draft to be taken up at the final meeting:

  • $3,000 income tax credit for volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members in good standing based on a sliding scale related to specific criteria.
  • Financial assistance for EMS training at state higher education facilities as well as advanced life
    support training at accredited sites around the Commonwealth.
  • $250,000 appropriation for the biennium for the Commonwealth's share of the VOLSAP Fund.
  • $2 increase in the $4-for-Life fee to $6-for-Life with the money raised applied to cover some of the costs resulting from the proposals in this package.

Staff was directed to prepare draft legislation as well as an executive summary draft of the joint subcommittee's work. In doing so, they are to work with the interested parties in order to develop the appropriate language. Once the drafts are complete, they will be mailed to the subcommittee members for their review prior to the final meeting.

Final Meeting

The final meeting of the joint subcommittee will be held in Richmond in November, at which time the members will decide if they can make recommendations for the upcoming Session of the General Assembly on any of the draft legislation explored during the study. Meeting information will be posted as soon as it is available on the study's website.

The Hon. Thomas D. Rust

For information, contact:
Joan Putney, Amigo Wade, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2007

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