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February27

Senators pass sentinel bill

Senators passed an amended version of House Bill 1087, which would allow school employees and volunteers to carry guns in and on school grounds, on a 21-14 vote this afternoon.

 

HB 1087 heads back across the hall to the House floor for final approval. If the amendments are approved by Representatives, the bill would head to Gov. Dennis Daugaard for signature or veto.

 

Three amendments were added to the bill by Senators. One amendment appoints the state’s Standards and Training Commission to oversee the 40-hours of firearms training required by the bill for non-law enforcement agents taking the sentinel role.

 

Another amendment provides a waiver of liability to the state’s Attorney General Office and local law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over a school district where a sentinel program is established. A provision in HB 1087 requires districts planning to implement a sentinel program to receive approval from their local law enforcement agency.

 

The final amendment allows voters in the district to refer a school board’s decision on implementing, or not implementing, a sentinel program to a vote. Sen. Larry Rhoden (29), who introduced the amendment, said it adds “one more layer of insulation” for the decision to be made locally.

 

Proponents of HB 1087 continued to argue the bill was about giving school boards local control on the decision.

 

“This needs to be an issue that’s settled locally,” Sen. Craig Tieszen (34) said. “(HB 1087) will not put a single firearm in any school. Only a local school board can make that decision.”

 

The referral amendment passed by the Senate presents constituents the opportunity to overturn a board’s decision and the provision of approval needed by the local law enforcement agency can do the same.

 

Senators who opposed the bill argued the decision should be made at the state level and was a rush to judgment after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. in December.

 

“In my opinion, House Bill 1087 is ready, fire and then aim,” Sen. Mark Johnston (12) said.

 

ASBSD is opposed to the bill.

 

For updates on HB 1087, check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.

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