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First responders rally at Capitol to preserve health coverage

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Hundreds of police officers and firefighters rallied today at the state Capitol. They are trying to protect retirement benefits that include health care coverage. The Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to adopt some changes soon to shore up local employee retirement plans that are under-funded.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says fixing the problem should not be at the expense of retired first responders.

“To talk about somebody wanting to change your health care benefits to something you never agreed while you were an employee, or your union never agreed to, is a dangerous situation," he said. "It creates un-trust.”

And it wasn’t only first responders who showed up for the rally.
Chad Anders is a member of the plumbers and pipefitters union in Saginaw.

“These guys are people who stand for us every day of the week, every day of the year, and it’s nice to be able to stand here with them when they need us,” he said.

There is no legislation introduced at this point, but a state House committee has opened hearings on the issue. House and Senate GOP leaders say they’d like to have a plan to shore up under-funded local pensions before the end of the year.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.