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Nebraska Governor Vetoes Bill on Mental Trauma Worker’s Compensation

OMAHA, Neb. — First-responders won’t be able to get workers’ compensation benefits for mental trauma suffered on the job after all.

Gov. Dave Heineman vetoed a bill Monday that would have expanded workers’ compensation benefits for police officers, firefighters and other first responders exposed to especially horrific conditions during their work.

In a message to the Legislature, he said Legislative Bill 819 would significantly increase workers’ compensation costs for cities, counties and the state. He said the state already provides a debriefing program for first responders in involved in the most traumatizing situations.

“The expansion of workers’ compensation coverage, as proposed by LB 819, is unwarranted and would be costly for state and local governments and their taxpayers,” Heineman said.

Based on the experience of other states, the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue had argued that claims for mental trauma would amount to only about 2 percent of total claims.

Under current Nebraska law, workers’ compensation covers physical injuries and accompanying mental trauma. It does not cover mental trauma by itself.