Victim benefits bill passes committee, moves to Senate floor

DENVER — A bill that would provide medical benefits to the survivors of fallen officers and other state employees who die while on the job is moving forward.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed Senate Bill 148 with a 5-0 vote on Thursday and it will now move to the Senate floor.

The widow of Colorado State Patro trooper Cody Donahue, Velma Donahue, spoke at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

Her husband was killed on Nov. 25, 2016 by a box truck that crossed onto the shoulder while he was assisting at a crash scene on Interstate 25 near Castle Rock.

His death inspired Colorado lawmakers to pass the Move over for Cody Act, which increases fines for drivers who fail to move over for first responders.

Velma Donahue said six days after her husband was killed, before his funeral, her daughter got sick and she took her to the doctor, only to be told that after 11 years she didn’t have health insurance anymore.

“I felt like I was punched in the gut. The last thing I wanted to do was to think about what kind of co-pays I needed to pick and what kind of things I needed to pay,” Donahue said.

Currently, medical benefits for dependents expire at the end of the month in which the employee passed away.

Senate Bill 148 would provide dependents health benefits for up to 12 months.