Your Capitol Voice (2/15/24)


This week we are beginning to discuss legislation to further address school safety. The tragic shooting at Perry High School brought school safety to the top of our legislative agenda.

We have been meeting with school administrators, law enforcement, teachers, and other stakeholders to develop legislative solutions with the goal of making students and staff safer.

There are many policies we will enact to address this issue, and this week I will give you highlights of two bills that are coming up soon:

 HSB 675 focuses on personnel being able to protect students in the event of an emergency. Schools with an enrollment of over 8000 students shall employ at least one school resource officer or private security officer.

The bill also creates a grant program to match funds to help fund these positions.  The bill also creates a new permit that allows a school employee to carry a weapon.  The requirements for this permit will be strictly prescribed and extensive.

The course for the permit must include one-time, in-person legal training and annual medical training and communication training.

Finally, the Department of Public Safety is instructed to implement a required, live scenario training and quarterly live firearm training for permitted school employees. 

 A second study bill in drafting would focus on school infrastructure. Schools would be required to complete a comprehensive review of their school safety and emergency response plans and to submit this review to law enforcement before the 2024-2025 school year.

The bill also creates a fund to install radios capable of accessing the Statewide Interoperable Communications System in school buildings that currently don’t have them.

This radio system helped law enforcement coordinate their response to the shooting at Perry. The bill also implements firearm detection software in three schools of different sizes through a pilot program and establishes a task force to create recommended school safety standards in building code.

Beginning in 2026, schools would be required to meet these school safety standards before using any SAVE funds on athletic facility projects.

 In a future column I will discuss in detail other legislation aimed at punishing people who do “swatting calls.” This happened in West Branch earlier this year.