By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Members of the state House stood in unison Wednesday morning as legislation was passed and sent to the governor honoring the two Tupelo police officers shot responding to a Dec. 23 bank robbery.
House Judiciary B Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said it was fitting that legislation ensuring local governments could pay all or part of an injured employee’s salary not covered by a state law enforcement trust fund that compensates firefighters and law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty was named the “Gale Stauffer Jr. and Joseph Maher Law Enforcement Act of 2014.”
In the Dec. 23 bank robbery in Tupelo, Stauffer was killed while responding while Maher was injured.
The legislation passed the House on Wednesday without a dissenting vote. It did the same in the Senate on Tuesday.
It now goes to Gov. Phil Bryant.
“This bill is important because it is a policy we are adopting to support our law enforcement who get up, get out of bed, kiss their wife goodbye and put their life on the line,” Gipson said.
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, introduced the proposal named after the officers. In the Senate, Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, also embraced the idea.
Tupelo city government already has determined that it could pay Maher without the legislation, though there were some questions at one point about whether it could.
In the Senate, the bill was expanded to cover state law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty, ensuring they would not have to use earned personal leave time or major medical leave time.