New bill would change pension plan for families of first responders killed in the line of duty

A state representative from Orlando expects to file a bill this week in the Florida House that would be named after a fallen Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

The Scott Pine Law would change the state retirement system to allow all families of first responders who are killed in the line of duty to receive 50 percent of the officer’s salary for the rest of the life of a surviving spouse or child.
Deputy Scott Pine was shot and killed by a suspect in February 2014, when he responded to a report of car burglaries near Windermere.

Pine was given a hero’s burial, but his widow, Bridget Pine, learned that she and her children would not get a financial benefit that’s extended to many officers killed in the line of duty.
"It was devastating," she said. "At the time, my children were 14 months, 4 and 6 years old."

The state retirement system gives first responders two options when it comes to planning for retirement: a pension plan or an investment plan.

The pension option allows spouses to get half of the officer's salary for life if he or she is killed in the line of duty.

The investment option entitles families only to what the officer has managed to save in his or her time on the force, but it's often considered a better investment.

As a former banker, Deputy Pine chose to invest.

"I do not believe that my children should have to suffer any more than they already do, and their future should not have to suffer financially because their daddy was a hero," Bridget Pine said.

She is working with State Representative Rene Plasencia, (R)-Orlando,  to change the law.

Plasencia told FOX 35 he expects the Scott Pine Law to be drafted this week.
Plasencia said no matter which retirement option a first responder chooses, the law “would give the surviving spouse of the first responder who's killed in the line of duty 50 percent of that first responder's pay for the rest of the spouses' life."

A similar bill got lost in the legislative shuffle last session, Plasencia said.
"I think this bill has a better chance of succeeding because it's been somewhat negotiated before it's been filed," Plasencia said, noting that he had worked with groups that represent law enforcement to draft the measure.
If the bill passes, it will retroactively help Bridget Pine’s family.

She said it will also help the families of other first responders.
"They should have the peace of mind that if something happens to them and they're killed in the line of duty that their families will be taken care of," she said.