UNDERCOVER - A bill that would give accidental death benefits to the widow of a Boston police officer who died from hepatitis C appears to be languishing on Beacon Hill.
The bill was filed last February after a FOX Undercover investigation revealed the woman was still fighting for the benefits 13 years after her husband died from what his doctors said was almost certainly a disease he caught on the job.
FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet went to the State House on Monday to track down Massachusetts' top politicians to see what happened to the bill.
"I don't know why it's being held up," said Maura Shaw, Kenneth Shaw's widow.
Officer Shaw worked in the police department's identification unit, responding to bloody crime scenes. He died from hepatitis C in 1998 that doctors believe he contracted on the job. But the state would not give his widow accidental death benefits because she couldn't pinpoint the person or corpse who gave him hepatitis C.
A bill to give her the benefits is stuck in the House Committee on Steering, Policy, and Scheduling.
Gov. Deval Patrick was the first one asked about it on Monday. "The family is concerned this bill is languishing up here on Beacon Hill. I know your office supports it," Beaudet asked.
"We do support it. You know I urge others who support it to make their voices known in the Legislature. That the calendar is drawing to a close. They're expecting to adjourn at the end of July. There's an awful lot of important business that is yet un-acted on. This is one of the items," Patrick said.
"It's in committee. Is that the Legislature's way of killing the bill?" Beaudet asked.
"You should ask that question down the hall," Patrick replied in a State House interview.
So we did.
"The family thinks the Legislature's basically trying to kill it, putting it in different committees," Beaudet asked Sen. President Therese Murray.
"I can't answer to that because it hasn't come to the Senate yet, but we usually extend those death benefits so I don't know why it would be held up," Murray replied.
And finally, we asked House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
"The family is concerned that you're holding this up?" Beaudet asked DeLeo.
"Oh no no no. I'm not moving it. I'm not holding it up. I'm doing neither, it's just going through the process," DeLeo replied.
"Do you support it?" Beaudet asked.
"I don't know enough about it," DeLeo replied.
As FOX Undercover started asking questions, the bill suddenly moved to another House committee and could be voted on by the House as early as this week.
"I'm hopeful, very hopeful in the next couple of weeks we will get this bill on to the governor's desk for signing," said state Rep. Marty Walsh, a bill sponsor.
The financial strain on the Shaw family is very real.
Since her husband died, Shaw lost her house and had to pawn her diamond engagement ring to help pay the bills.
Now Shaw is fighting another battle: she just found out she has breast cancer.
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