The following is a letter from Jill Baker, the the wife of Jason Baker, a firefighter with stage 4 cancer.
I am asking you to reconsider your “no” vote on Senate Bill 72. In October 2016, my husband, Jason Baker, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He is 43 years old and a non-smoker. His only risk factor is that he has been a firefighter for nearly 17 years with the City of Great Falls. As his wife of 21 years, I have been prepared for the day that he may become seriously injured or even die on the job. As a spouse, I know that our family will be taken care of if the worst were to happen on the job, or so I thought. At this point, there is NO occupational coverage or benefits for firefighters who get lung disease or cancer despite the research that shows that there is a significant increase in their risk from occupational exposure.
By voting NO on this bill today you have said to our family, including our 11 and 15 year old children, that his sacrifice doesn’t matter to you. That our family’s struggle doesn’t matter to you. I have listened to the hearings and heard your testimony. I heard you talk about how you “love” and “appreciate” firefighters, but your words are empty without action. Shame on you for putting politics before the lives of public servants. I am most insulted by Chairman Noland’s inference that firefighters know what they are getting into by signing up for the job. In other words, you are saying that my husband deserves to get cancer and there is nothing that you are willing to do about it. Even your reluctant no’s are still no’s. There is a funding source for this bill so your fiscal argument against it is empty. However, you have a chance to redeem yourselves by reconsidering your vote.