BENNINGTON - Legislation championed by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy to extend death benefits to first responders not employed by state or federal government has been attached to a defense spending bill and is now expected to pass.

Leahy, a Democrat, has been seeking passage of the "Dale Long Act" since 2009, when the late Bennington emergency medical technician died in an ambulance crash. The legislation would extend benefits to the families of first responders who are employed by nonprofit agencies like the Bennington Rescue Squad, for whom Long worked.

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn had previously stymied all of Leahy's attempts to pass the bill by placing holds on it or taking other measures. However, the bill was added as an amendment to the defense spending bill Wednesday night and Coburn was not able to block it. The motion passed on an 85 to 11 vote.

A full story will appear in Friday's edition of the Banner.



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