On February 22nd, 2023

CSLEA Co-Sponsors SB 391 - Access to Benefits for State Wildlife Officer and Park Ranger Victims of Skin Cancer

SACRAMENTO - The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) and the California Fish and Game Wardens Supervisors and Managers Association (CFGWSMA) are co-sponsoring Senate Bill 391 - Workers’ compensation: skin cancer, introduced in February by  Senator Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas).   Senate Bill 391, would enable the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)  officers and California State Parks rangers to more easily access workers’ compensation benefits for skin cancer diagnoses and treatment.

SB 391 will establish a rebuttable presumption that skin cancer developed by California’s wildlife officers and park rangers is associated with excessive exposure to the sun during their employment. It would remove unnecessary barriers for California’s wildlife officers and park rangers to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits associated with skin cancer. This same rebuttable presumption established in 2002, is available to state and local lifeguards. Furthermore, most other peace officers are covered for a presumption for all cancers.

SB 391 is a re-introduction of last session’s Assembly Bill 334 which passed the legislature unanimously, however was vetoed by the Governor.

“CSLEA is committed to protecting its members, including California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers and California State Parks rangers,” said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  “The public safety work by these law enforcement officers is conducted outdoors in the elements including lengthy and continued exposure to the harsh sun.  We thank Senator Blakespear for introducing our bill and last year’s legislature for unanimously passing it.  The presumption will greatly aide these law enforcement officers in accessing their workers’ compensation if needed while being treated for skin cancer.”

“Excessive exposure to the sun from years working outside is a core part of wildlife officers’ and park rangers’ job descriptions,” said Sen. Blakespear. “I introduced SB 391 because California’s approximately 1,100 game wardens and park rangers deserve the same access to benefits that lifeguards and other peace officers have when it comes to the treatment of skin cancer within the workers’ compensation system. Having to sue the workers’ compensation system to receive benefits associated with treating and fighting skin cancer is insulting, time-consuming, and expensive for all involved. SB 391 will bring parity to a classification of workers that have been overlooked when it comes to the risks and realities of skin cancer.”

“Too many of our colleagues and their families suffer twice: first with the often-life altering impacts of contending with skin cancer diagnosis and treatment, and second with fighting to convince the state to gain access their workers’ compensation benefits,” said Capt. Danny Stevenson,  CFGWSMA president. “We thank Senator Blakespear for continuing to persuade Governor Newsom to support a change to this unfortunate pattern and address a persistent inequity. We must protect those who protect our natural resources.”

A July 2022 report authored by two occupational health experts and commissioned by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation concluded that there is a causal relationship between wildlife officers’ and park rangers’ occupational requirements and increased risk of skin cancer.

SB 391 is expected to be heard first in the Senate Labor Committee in March or April.

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