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January29

“Sentinel” bill passed, Open Meetings bill impeded by House

Votes on two bills connected to school boards by the House of Representatives yielded differently results this afternoon (Tuesday).

 

Representatives voted 42-27 to pass House Bill 1087, which would allow school boards to “create, establish and supervise” a “sentinel” program that would arm staff, security or volunteers on school grounds.

 

A lengthy debate preceded the vote with proponents arguing the bill provides districts without school resource officers to arm individuals to protect the school against a violent threat and opponents countering that more guns in schools creates an atmosphere driven by fear and increases safety risks.

 

An amendment made to the bill removed the wording “in its sole discretion” relating to a school board’s decision to create and implement the program and changed the requirement of only a county sheriff having full approval of the program to “law enforcement official” approval.

 

ASBSD opposes the bill based on the association’s standing position on Safe and Secure Schools, which supports keeping “weapons” off school grounds. The standing position was approved by a majority of member schools in November at ASBSD’s Delegate Assembly.

 

House Bill 1113 had a different fate from HB 1087, falling one vote short of the majority needed to pass. The bill would make digital text communication (i.e. email, text message, online conversations) an open record if it includes discussion of official business among a quorum of board members.

 

Rep. Charles Hoffman (23) called the bill a “solution looking for a problem” while Rep. David Lust (34) said HB 1113 erred on the side of “good government” because of the growing utilization of digital communication.

 

HB 1113 will be reconsidered tomorrow. ASBSD will monitor the bill’s status.

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