ATLANTA (May 3, 2016) | On Tuesday, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 54, known as the “Shawn Smiley Act.” HB 54 provides tuition grants to children of law enforcement and public safety officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. The bill was authored by Rep. Keisha Waites and carried by Sen. Nan Orrock (D – Atlanta) in the Senate. HB 54 in its final form was passed on the last day of the 2016 legislative session and goes into effect on July 1, 2016.
“With enactment of this bill, we are sending the right message to our public safety responders and their families,” said Sen. Orrock. “The men and women of our public safety departments do so much to ensure our safety each and every day. Tuition support for children of those first responders who lost their lives or suffered a severe disability while serving the community is an important resource for families facing such a loss. Our public safety officers work long hours, often in dangerous conditions and with a very moderate pay scale. Ensuring a pathway to higher education for their children in the event of a tragedy is the right thing to do. HB 54 raises the funds to make this possible. I feel privileged to have been a part of this legislation which leads us in the right direction.”
This legislation provides tuition funds for children of police officers, firefighters, prison guards, EMTs and Highway Emergency Response Officers who are disabled or killed in the line of duty. These grants would help pay for the children’s education within the University System of Georgia. The applicants would need to meet certain eligibility requirement. The tuition program would be funded by voluntary donations through the driver’s license check-off and state income tax return check-off.
The bill signing included law enforcement officials and family members who have lost loved ones, including the wife of Officer Shawn A. Smiley, for whom the Act was titled. Smiley was an Atlanta police officer who lost his life in the line of duty when his helicopter crashed while searching for a missing child in November 2012.
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For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2016
For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Ines Owens, Sr. Communications Specialist