Zachary officials are planning to bring an ordinance before the City Council that could let the widow of a reserve police officer killed earlier this year enroll in the city’s medical insurance program.
But the city attorney said he’s not yet sure if that would be legal, citing an unclear answer he got when he requested an opinion from the state attorney general.
Shannon Lawton, whose husband Chris Lawton was killed in the line of duty in March, appeared at a council meeting last month to ask about signing up for the insurance.
She said then that she and her husband, who worked full-time as a deputy chief of the Zachary Fire Department, decided to use her employer’s insurance. Had they known about a survivor benefit available through the city’s insurance, though, they would have signed up for its policy, she said.
Zachary Police Chief David McDavid read the final name off the fallen officer roll call Friday morning at the Baton Rouge peace officer memori…
Lawton returned to the council on Tuesday, asking members to pass an ordinance so she and her daughter can enroll.
City Attorney John Hopewell said the city doesn’t have an ordinance on the books that specifically addresses whether survivors can seek to sign up for benefits after their spouse has died.
He’s working on an ordinance that would make that the law — but legally, it could appear questionable if the council passes such an ordinance after hearing Lawton’s request, Hopewell said.
He said the attorney general's opinion he received did not fully answer his question, saying only that it would be a legal use of public funds and neglecting to address the lack of an existing ordinance. He added, however, that he’s comfortable letting the council proceed in considering the ordinance.
The council couldn’t vote on the matter Tuesday because an ordinance has not yet been drafted. The ordinance likely will be introduced the next time the council meets, then voted on at a later meeting, Mayor David Amrhein said.
In other action the council:
- Approved a conditional use permit allowing alcohol to be sold at Cloud 9 Hookah Lounge on La. 19. Council members previously tabled the permit request over concerns about the number of parking spaces available to lounge patrons. Amrhein said the city has verified the lounge has enough parking.
- Approved special counsel contracts for attorneys Stacey Moak and Darrell Loup, who will represent the city in two separate lawsuits. One is a personal injury lawsuit, and the other deals with an automobile crash, Hopewell said. Further details weren’t discussed at the meeting.
- Granted a permit for a craft beer tasting to be held Oct. 27 during the Lane Regional Medical Center Foundation’s Code Red Chili Cook-off.
- Agreed to let the city seek bids for a new Ford Expedition for the Police Department.