Former first responder still waiting for relief through Amendment 3

- Last year, Florida voters honored the men and women who dedicate their lives to fighting crime, rescuing the injured and saving lives. Voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 3 to give a 100-percent property tax exemption to permanently disabled first responders who are permanently disabled in the line of duty.

But some, like disabled former medic April Bulla, discovered a catch that can make it very difficult to qualify.

Eight years ago, April says, she was treating a patient in an ambulance when it crashed. She said her head slammed into a cabinet, causing damage to her brain. And she had medical records noting the injury and her disability.

"I can be going somewhere and forget where I'm going…or be in the house and not realize what I'm doing," she said.

She has trouble with numbers and has trouble reading. She gets easily confused, and struggles with short-term memory. Again, her physician noted she can't hold down a job and she knows she needs help.

April gets around $800 a month in Social Security disability. And the cost of living in her Citrus County home and prescriptions chew up much of that. She lives off the eggs from a few chickens she keeps outside because she says she can't afford much else.

She went from saving lives to scrounging for food and thought Amendment Three would help her make ends meet. But Florida lawmakers came up with rules that make it a harder to get the tax break than the amendment may suggest.

"They're putting a clause in there that would not allow for us to utilize it. So it looks like the bill is passing but it's not," she said.

Under the lawmakers’ plan, in addition to medical records and proof of disability, she also needs a note from her former employer connecting her disability to her former job -- which any company to any company concerned about legal exposure may not want to write.

April Bulla may be the first of other disabled first responders that voters may have intended to honor and help, but still get left behind.

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