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Legislation aimed at helping volunteer fire departments

Today, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) sponsored legislation designed to help volunteer fire departments across Minnesota recruit firefighters by restoring and expanding tax incentives that have proved successful in attracting volunteers.

"Volunteer firefighters across Minnesota put their lives at risk every day to protect their communities, and they do it without asking for anything in return," said Sen. Franken. "This legislation will allow us to thank our volunteer firefighters and to inspire others to take on this incredible job, making our communities safer and stronger."

The Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 would exempt any property tax benefit, as well as up to $600 per year of other benefits provided by state or local governments, from being taxed as income. In 2007, Congress passed similar legislation that exempted property taxes and $360 of other benefits from being taxed as income, but that law expired in 2010. The National Volunteer Fire Council and volunteer fire departments in Minnesota and nationwide have praised the legislation for its effectiveness in recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters.

Sen. Franken is a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, which unites Republicans and Democrats in support of fire service legislation that benefits all first responders. He also sponsored the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Reauthorization Act during the 112th Congress.