TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law a bill that will increase retirement benefits for families of fallen law enforcement, corrections and probation officers, as well as firefighters and paramedics.
The legislation was championed by Bridget Pine, who became a widowed mother of three after husband Scott Pine, a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, was killed in the line of duty in 2014. The bill had been nicknamed the "Scott Pine Law."
Prior to the bill becoming law, when first responders chose a retirement plan they picked between a pension plan and an investment plan. The state retirement system said that the families of first responders killed on the job who chose the pension plan received 50 percent of that officer’s monthly salary for life.
The investment plan was often seen as the option that provided the bigger financial benefit, but if the first responder was killed on the job, the family received only what the officer had saved at the time of death. As a former investment banker, Pine chose the latter, and the plan that would have paid off in the long run wound up working against him.
With the passing of the Scott Pine Law, the pension benefit will increase to 100 percent of the monthly salary earned by the deceased family member. Those families whose loved one was a member of the investment plan will be able to convert those benefits to a monthly annuity that will serve to replace lost income in a similar manner.