Burns revives bill to provide in-state tuition for children of deployed military members

Chastises state Senate for failure to hold final vote on measures that has robust House support

EBENSBURG, April 6 – Vigorously committed to those who serve our country, state Rep. Frank Burns is reintroducing his bipartisan proposal to ensure the children and spouses of military families in Pennsylvania qualify for in-state college tuition if a parent is deployed or reassigned out-of-state, hoping this time it won’t be procedurally thwarted in the state Senate.

Burns, D-Cambria, has seen the bill sail through the House of Representatives with unanimous and bipartisan approval in prior legislative sessions –garnering approval from a key Senate committee– only to die on the vine by not being scheduled for a final vote in the upper chamber.

“This has happened twice, for reasons that defy logic and are a disservice to those who defend our country,” Burns said. “The full Senate has voted two times to move this legislation to a final vote – which has never taken place. This gamesmanship needs to end.”

Burns said his House Bill 804 is straightforward and sensible: It would guarantee in-state tuition rates to military families as soon as a student enrolls or registers at a community college or submits an enrollment deposit to a four-year public college or university, even if their military parent is later reassigned to another state.

“I challenge anyone serving in the state Senate to publicly state why this bill shouldn’t become the law in Pennsylvania,” Burns said. “The House of Representatives thinks it should, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee thinks it should, and the full Senate has voted to move the legislation to a final, crucial vote.

“This is like a football team successfully driving 99 yards downfield in the final minutes of the Super Bowl, then letting the clock run out instead of kicking the game-winning field goal. It’s baffling and makes no sense.”

Burns said the nature of military service requires those in uniform to go where needed, when needed – injecting an unpredictability and requiring a flexibility on their part that Pennsylvania should acknowledge when it comes to higher education.

“Military parents can’t control the dynamics of their lives when engaged in serving our nation,” Burns said, “and their children shouldn’t be penalized for them having to answer the call of duty. My bill would make sure they aren’t.”