The Senate Education Committee approved two bills this week sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to help law enforcement and firefighters.
Under Senate Bill 1719, full-time law enforcement officers and firefighters will be eligible for enrollment in one course per term at any state-operated institution of higher learning without paying tuition charges, maintenance fees, student activity fees, or registration fees.
“Our law enforcement officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day,” said Gardenhire. “This bill simply provides them with the ability to take a course at our state-operated colleges and universities, which is especially useful if he or she has encountered too much physical or mental stress on the job and are looking to develop other employment skills.”
Enrollment under the bill will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
The other Gardenhire bill passed by the committee provides that every child in Tennessee under 24 years of age whose parent is employed as a full-time law enforcement officer or full-time firefighter in Tennessee would receive a 25 percent discount on tuition to any state-operated institution of higher learning. Senate Bill 1720 also provides that any child who is receiving the discount, but whose parent dies during the time the child is enrolled, will be eligible to continue to receive it.
“Law enforcement officers and firefighters make a lot of personal sacrifices to serve the public,” added Gardenhire. “Many of them forgo more financially profitable careers because they believe protecting the public is more important. This bill is a small token to help them with the expenses of putting a child through college.”
Both bills now go to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration of the financial impact.