Rep. Troy Kelley says he’s “deeply concerned” for the families and community members impacted by recent tragedies in the law enforcement community.
As a 28th District legislator, Kelley’s district includes the southwest part of Pierce County, not far from where four Lakewood law enforcement officers were slain in November.
“My community is still reeling from the deaths of four officers just within the last couple of months, and some families are never going to be able to fully recover from that,” Kelley said while testifying on his House Bill 2479 at a House Higher Education committee hearing on Tuesday. “I think this bill goes a long way in helping them recover. It’s the least we can do.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire echoed a similar stance on the issue during her annual State of the State address. “Let’s get to work for our fallen officers, their families and our entire law enforcement community,” said Gregoire. “…and for their children, it is our duty to make available a college education.”
Kelley’s HB 2479 makes it mandatory for state institutions of higher education to waive tuition and fees for children of any law enforcement officer or firefighter who lost his or her life or became totally disabled in the line of duty.
In 2007, Washington recognized its first mandatory tuition waiver, which required institutions to waive all undergraduate tuition and fees for the children and spouses of veterans or National Guard members who died or became totally disabled as a result of serving or who are missing in action or prisoners of war. HB 2479 adds a second mandatory tuition waiver for a significantly smaller group of eligible recipients.
Kelley’s seatmate, Rep. Tami Green, is also sponsoring legislation to support the law enforcement community and firefighters by introducing HB 2519. Green’s bill includes a mandatory tuition waiver for children, as well as spouses of law enforcement officers and firefighters who lost his or her life or became totally disabled in the line of duty.