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AB-2554 Public postsecondary education: exemption from mandatory systemwide tuition and fees: surviving child or spouse of a federal firefighter. (2017-2018)

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Date Published: 08/24/2018 09:00 PM
AB2554:v96#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 2554
CHAPTER 191

An act to amend Section 68120 of the Education Code, relating to public postsecondary education.

[ Approved by Governor  August 24, 2018. Filed with Secretary of State  August 24, 2018. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2554, Bonta. Public postsecondary education: exemption from mandatory systemwide tuition and fees: surviving child or spouse of a federal firefighter.
(1) Existing law prohibits the Board of Directors of the Hastings College of the Law, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Trustees of the California State University, and, if they adopt an appropriate resolution, the Regents of the University of California, from collecting mandatory systemwide tuition and fees from any surviving spouse or surviving child of a deceased person who was a resident of the state and employed by or contracting with a public agency, whose principal duties consisted of active law enforcement service or active fire suppression and prevention, and who died as a result of his or her duties, as specified.
This bill would specify that the surviving child or spouse of a firefighter employed by the federal government whose duty assignment involved the performance of firefighting services in this state would also be eligible for exemption from mandatory systemwide tuition and fees under the provision described above.
To the extent that this bill would impose new duties on community college districts, it would constitute a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) In California, a firefighter is a firefighter no matter the color of the uniform. California’s federal firefighters are recognized by the Legislature as being trained to the same standards as their state and local government colleagues.
(2) California’s federal firefighters are an integral part of California’s mutual aid network. They risk everything to protect our state from devastating fires and disasters, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with state and local government fire service personnel.
(3) As California reels from another season of record-breaking fire events, which are now becoming the norm and putting thousands of firefighters in jeopardy, we hail their selfless devotion to duty. These incidents are poignant reminders that, when a firefighter puts on turnouts, regardless of who issues the uniform, and heads out on a call, there is always the chance that he or she will not return.
(4) When a California firefighter falls in the line of duty, it is our duty as citizens to remember their sacrifice and to do everything we can to support the families they leave behind.
(5) Survivors of federal firefighters killed in the line of duty, and who lived and worked as firefighters in California, are eligible for some of the same occupational death benefits extended to state and local governmental firefighters under current law.
(6) With respect to survivor educational benefits, access to higher education is instrumental in a surviving family member’s ability to effectively achieve economic stability and for California’s surviving children of fallen firefighters to realize their full potential in the aftermath of their loved one’s job-caused tragedy.
(7) Since the enactment of the fee waivers in Section 68120 of the Education Code, colleges and universities have administered the section in a manner that excludes surviving spouses and children of fallen federal firefighters who were residents of, and provided services within, this state.
(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to clarify that Section 68120 of the Education Code applies to those survivors of California federal firefighters killed in the line of duty.

SEC. 2.

 Section 68120 of the Education Code is amended to read:

68120.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, no mandatory systemwide fees or tuition of any kind shall be required of or collected by the Regents of the University of California, the Board of Directors of the Hastings College of the Law, the Trustees of the California State University, or the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges from any surviving spouse or surviving child of a deceased person who met all of the following requirements:
(1) He or she was a resident of this state.
(2) He or she was employed by a public agency or was a contractor, or an employee of a contractor, performing services for a public agency, or was a firefighter employed by the federal government whose duty assignment involved the performance of firefighting services in this state.
(3) His or her principal duties consisted of active law enforcement service or active fire suppression and prevention. This section shall not apply to a person whose principal duties were clerical, even if he or she was subject to occasional call or was occasionally called upon to perform duties within the scope of active law enforcement or active fire suppression and prevention.
(4) He or she was killed in the performance of active law enforcement or active fire suppression and prevention duties, died as a result of an accident or an injury caused by external violence or physical force incurred in the performance of his or her active law enforcement or active fire suppression and prevention duties, or died as a result of an industrial injury or illness arising out of and in the course of active law enforcement or fire suppression and prevention duties.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a person who qualifies for the waiver of mandatory systemwide fees and tuition under this section as a surviving child of a contractor, or of an employee of a contractor, who performed services for a public agency shall, in addition to the requirements set forth in subdivision (a), meet both of the following requirements:
(1) Enrollment as an undergraduate student at a campus of the University of California or the California State University or as a student at a community college campus.
(2) Documentation that his or her annual income, including the value of any support received from a parent, does not exceed the maximum household income and asset level for an applicant for a Cal Grant B award, as set forth in Section 69432.7.
(c) As used in this section:
(1) “Contractor” or “employee of a contractor” does not include a security guard or security officer, as defined in Section 7582.1 of the Business and Professions Code.
(2) “Public agency” means the state or any city, county, city and county, district, or other local authority or public body of or within the state.
(3) “Spouse” has the same meaning as defined in Section 22171.
(4) “Surviving child” means either of the following:
(A) A surviving natural or adopted child of the deceased person.
(B) A surviving stepchild who meets both of the following requirements:
(i) He or she was living or domiciled with the deceased person at the time of his or her death.
(ii) He or she was claimed on the tax form most recently filed by the deceased person prior to that person’s death, or he or she received 50 percent or more of his or her support from that deceased person in the tax year immediately preceding the death of the deceased person, or both.

SEC. 3.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.