Bizzarro: Volunteer emergency responders shouldn’t have to pay background clearance fees

ERIE, June 4 – Joined by volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services providers at West Lake Fire Department, state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro today voiced his support for legislation that would exempt emergency responders from paying more than $47 in fees for state and federal background clearances.

Bizzarro discussed H.B. 1081, which would excuse volunteer and paid firefighters and EMS providers from paying the $10 state Department of Human Services child abuse clearance fee, in addition to the $10 Pennsylvania State Police criminal background clearance fee. It would also waive FBI clearance fees, totaling nearly $30, provided the emergency responders have lived in Pennsylvania for the past 10 years and have clean records.

“Our volunteers put their lives on the line for us every day, while saving the commonwealth billions of dollars,” Bizzarro said. “We rely on them to keep our communities safe, even though many volunteer organizations’ budgets are suffering. Instead of potentially deterring many interested people from signing up to volunteer, we should ease the burden of these fees so our courageous men and women can continue to help improve our state.”

According to Bizzarro, the fees are the unintended consequences from recent changes to the state’s child protection laws.

“One of our most important jobs is to protect our children,” Bizzarro said. “However, we also need to look out for those caring volunteers who make sure our children are safe and healthy. House Bill 1081 would do just that.”

Bizzarro noted legislation to extend the fee exemption to all volunteers may be introduced in the future.

House Bill 1081 has garnered bipartisan support and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Bizzarro sits, for further consideration.