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Governor Brown has now signed AB 1035 into law. The new law provides an extension for dependents of deceased firefighters and peace officers to file for workers’ compensation death benefits who died from cancer; tuberculosis; Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin infections; or bloodborne infectious disease. This extension is for up to 420 weeks from the date of injury, or slightly more than 8 years, but in no case more than one year from the date of death. This extension will sunset on January 1, 2019. This bill further declares the need for the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to study mortality rates prior to extending or allowing the extension to sunset.

Governor Brown issued the following statement as he signed the new law. “Last year, in vetoing AB 1373, I expressed concern in enacting legislation prior to the availability of more research and fiscal data on the risks of death from cancer and other job related diseases on firefighters. The results of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study on mortality and cancer incidence on US firefighters are now available for review and provide better data on the fiscal impacts of this bill. Importantly, a review of this data anticipates that fewer than 20 cases a year throughout the state would be affected if the provisions only apply to diseases diagnosed during active service.”

“Therefore, I am signing AB 1035 to extend the time period to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from 240 weeks to 420 weeks after date of injury, and to require a claim to be filed within one year after the date of death. The bill has been drafted to apply only if the date of injury is during active service, as defined in Section 5412 of the Labor Code, and also contains a sunset date to allow us to examine additional data collected by the Division of Workers’ Compensation before reauthorizing the statute.”