Establishes the volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service volunteer tuition assistance grant program; provides that counties shall have the option to establish such program by the enactment of a local law; provides for state reimbursement to counties for fifty percent of tuition assistance costs.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to establishing a volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service volunteer tuition assistance grant program
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This legislation would help to address the continuing difficulty local volunteer fire and emergency medical service (EMS) departments have had recruiting and retaining volunteers. This difficulty is particularly true for young people who are hard pressed to pursue their careers and their education while volunteering for these critically important services.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: This bill allows counties to establish a local tuition grants program for active volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel at state operated institutions. The grant can be for up to fifty percent of tuition required at state operated institutions or community colleges.
This legislation also provides that, where a county has created a tuition grants program, the state would reimburse the county at one-half the actual tuition grant established by the county for each eligible volunteer.
JUSTIFICATION: During the last several years it has become increasingly difficult for local volunteer fire and EMS departments to recruit and retain new members. The demands on young people to meet various responsibilities in their family and personal lives continue to grow. Family life, career development and other demands limit people's ability to volunteer their time. This is particularly true for volunteer firemen and EMS personnel, who need special training in light of the life-threatening situations they are exposed to and confronted at any given time.
Over the last decade, the legislature has taken a variety of steps to protect volunteers and their families. This includes special insurance protection and retirement benefits for these volunteers. However, these incentives lend themselves to long tenured members and provide little, if any, incentive for young people to become involved.
This legislation attempts to provide some direct help by focusing on education. This should help local fire and EMS departments recruit young people who are attending college but are willing to volunteer their time to become part of a local firefighter or emergency medical services organization.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2008: S.7094/A.1194 2009: S.2697/A.6029
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: At county option.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to academic semesters, quarters and classroom hours beginning on or after January 1, 2013.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4724 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 15, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. KENNEDY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Higher Education AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to establishing a volun- teer firefighters and emergency medical service volunteer tuition assistance grant program THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section 609 to read as follows: S 609. VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE VOLUNTEER TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM. 1. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING MEANINGS: A. "VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER" SHALL MEAN AN ACTIVE VOLUNTEER MEMBER OF A FIRE COMPANY OF A COUNTY, A FIRE COMPANY OF A CITY, TOWN OR VILLAGE LOCATED WITHIN SUCH COUNTY, OR A FIRE DISTRICT FIRE DEPARTMENT LOCATED WITHIN SUCH COUNTY, WHETHER OR NOT ANY SUCH COMPANY IS INCORPORATED UNDER ANY GENERAL OR SPECIAL LAW. B. "VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE PERSONNEL" SHALL MEAN AN ACTIVE VOLUNTEER MEMBER OF ANY EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE AS ESTABLISHED WITHIN A COUNTY, TOWN, VILLAGE OR CITY OR LOCAL TAX DISTRICT, WHETHER OR NOT ANY SUCH SERVICE IS INCORPORATED UNDER ANY GENERAL OR SPECIAL LAW. C. "AT LEAST A PART-TIME BASIS" SHALL MEAN ENROLLMENT FOR AT LEAST SIX HOURS PER SEMESTER OR FOUR HOURS PER QUARTER. D. "TUITION" SHALL MEAN THE TOTAL SEMESTER, QUARTER OR CLASSROOM HOUR COST OF INSTRUCTION TO THE STUDENT AT A STATE-OPERATED INSTITUTION OR COMMUNITY COLLEGE, AS DEFINED PURSUANT TO SECTION THREE HUNDRED FIFTY OF THIS CHAPTER, EXCLUDING MANDATORY FEES, BOOK CHARGES AND ROOM AND BOARD. 2. ANY COUNTY WITHIN THE STATE IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED, BY THE ENACTMENT OF A LOCAL LAW, TO ESTABLISH AND IMPLEMENT A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS/EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE VOLUNTEER TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM TO PROVIDE TUITION ASSISTANCE TO VOLUNTEEREXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08408-01-1 S. 4724 2
FIREFIGHTERS/EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE VOLUNTEERS ENROLLED ON AT LEAST A PART-TIME BASIS AT STATE-OPERATED INSTITUTIONS OR COMMUNITY COLLEGES AS THOSE TERMS ARE DEFINED IN SECTION THREE HUNDRED FIFTY OF THIS CHAPTER. ANY PROGRAM ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL PROVIDE TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANTS TO SUCH VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS/EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE VOLUNTEERS IN AN AMOUNT UP TO FIFTY PERCENT OF THE TUITION REQUIRED TO BE PAID TO SUCH STATE-OPERATED INSTITUTION OR COMMUNITY COLLEGE BY SUCH FIREFIGHTER/EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE VOLUNTEER. 3. ANY COUNTY WHICH ESTABLISHES A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS/EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE VOLUNTEER TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM THE STATE FOR ONE-HALF OF THE ACTUAL COST OF TUITION ASSISTANCE PAID BY SUCH COUNTY TO VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS OR EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE PERSONNEL. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to academ- ic semesters, quarters and classroom hours beginning on or after January 1, 2013.