SHEBOYGAN (WKOW) — When you think of losing a loved one, losing health insurance isn’t top of mind. For the widows of law enforcement officers, it has to be.
Right now, when an officer is killed in the line of duty in Wisconsin, the family only has months to find another way to get health insurance. But a bill being brought before lawmakers in an upcoming session is hoping to change that.
The “Duty Death” Bill, or Assembly Bill 300, would allow law enforcement widows the ability to keep their family’s on the department’s health insurance plan. Premiums would be paid by the community where the officer was employed.
Charlette Nennig lost her husband, Sheboygan County Lt. LeRoy Nennig Jr., more than a decade ago. He was riding his motorcycle home from an assignment and came across a car fire on Highway 23. He pulled over and started taking charge of the situation, he was then hit from behind. The 30-year veteran died on Aug. 15, 2004.
Charlette remembers the difficulties she endured without him, emotionally and financially.
“We had to go through little things that you just wouldn’t think of, like how much money I was going to receive from his last paycheck,” said Charlette. “The insurance part of it, that I only had a few months left.”
She said she felt alone and she and her then 17-year-old son navigated the rocky road.
“When it comes to the insurance it was just one thing I didn’t want to deal with,” she said.
Nennig was fortunate enough to get insurance through her employer, but she knows that’s not the case for others thrust into the situation. That’s why she’s pushing for the “Duty Death” Bill.
“They’re in the darkest time of their lives and this would be one thing that really helps them out to not have to deal with that and take care of their children,” Nennig said.
One of the authors of the bill, Rep. John Spiros, is hopeful it will pass.
“Right now fire departments have this already in law and what we’re trying to do is get this in law for police officers and their families,” he said.
A joint hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17 at the Capitol. Spiros and Nennig will be there to talk about the importance of it.