LANSING, Mich., Feb. 17, 2021 — State Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) testified before the House Committee on Appropriations today on his legislation to expand benefits for children of fallen first responders. House Bill 4247, which passed by a unanimous vote in committee, would guarantee in-state college tuition for all surviving school-aged children of police officers and firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.

“This legislation will give first responders the peace of mind to do their jobs knowing that their families will be taken care of, should they make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Koleszar. “It’s the least we can do if that sad day should ever come. Thankfully, this is not a program that needs to be used often. However, it’s important to ensure that it’s there for those who need it. Those who would qualify for this program have already lost a loved one, so to further deprive them of the opportunity to receive an education is just wrong.”

On average, three first responders are killed in the line of duty every year in Michigan. Currently, the Police Officer’s and Fire Fighter’s Survivor Tuition Grant Act is available to children of deceased Michigan police officers or firefighters that meet the established criteria, including a limitation on family income. HB 4247 ensures all children, no matter their family’s circumstances, can benefit from the program following the tragedy of losing a parent. Koleszar introduced identical legislation in 2019, which also passed a committee vote unanimously but was not brought up for a final vote on the House Floor before the end of the term.

After passing by a unanimous vote in the House Committee on Appropriations, HB 4247 awaits a final House vote.