State Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) introduced the “Anthony Dia Act,” to expand the Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund to ensure Anthony Dia’s sons qualify to receive a waiver to cover their college tuition and fees in Ohio. Currently, the fund provides tuition and fee waivers to spouses and children of police officers, fire fighters, and US armed forces service members killed in the line of duty, if they remain Ohio residents.
“We must support our fallen heroes’ families notwithstanding where they live. Many families have to relocate after the death of a loved one. Ohio law needs updated to reflect this reality,” said Merrin.
The legislation prevents families from losing their tuition benefits if they move out-of-state, and asserts spouses and children are eligible for the waiver if they were Ohio residents at the time their loved one loss their life in the line of duty. Officer Anthony Dia, the inspiration for the bill, was a Toledo Police Officer who was shot and killed in July responding to incident in parking lot of a Home Depot store. His wife, Jayme, and two sons survive him.
“Officer Dia’s family now lives in Michigan right near the state of Ohio line. Under current law, they will be unable to qualify for this tuition and fees waiver,” said Merrin. “It is not right, Anthony Dia is a hero that bravely served Ohio, and his sons, along with others this may affect, deserve to qualify for this waiver – the bill corrects this problem.”
Although the 133rd General Assembly finishes soon, Rep. Derek Merrin is optimistic about the legislation. “I’m going to quickly try to build a legislative consensus, and may try to amend the bill into another fast-tracked bill to expedite approval before the end of the year,” said Merrin.