House approves Zeigler bill to support retirement program for volunteer first responders

Thu, 06/03/2021 - 9:15am

    AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives gave unanimous initial approval Wednesday to a bill that would provide state funding to Maine’s Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), a program that rewards volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel for their service with contributions to a retirement program.

    “I want to share my sincere thanks to all of my colleagues for this bipartisan show of support for our volunteer first responders,” said Representative Stanley Paige Zeigler, D-Montville, the bill’s sponsor. “Funding LOSAP is the right thing to do for the countless volunteers who have dedicated many years to responding to calls.”

    The 127th Maine Legislature passed legislation creating the framework necessary to establish a Length of Service Award Program at the state level, but the framework legislation was passed without a funding source.

    Zeigler’s bill would provide state funding necessary for the Maine Length of Service Award Program. The program could also accept contributions from municipalities and the federal government.

    “The program is established on a point system, so the more you actually participate with your fire department, the more you will actually earn,” said Bill Gillespie, fire chief for the Town of Liberty and chair of LOSAP’s Board of Trustees, during the bill’s public hearing. “Once you’ve reached 60 years old, you are eligible at that point in time to start to take a contribution… whatever you’ve earned based on your point structure, you will receive that in the retirement program.”

    The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

    Zeigler is serving his third term in the Maine House and represents the communities of Belmont, Liberty, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Palermo and Searsmont. He serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.