Guns in Schools bill headed to Senate
A bill that would allow school employees and volunteers to carry guns in and on school grounds was passed by the Senate State Affairs committee today on a 5-4 vote.
House Bill 1087 would allow school boards to establish a sentinel program pending the approval of a local law enforcement agency. Non-law enforcement agents filling the sentinel role would be required to complete 40-hours of firearms training.
ASBSD opposes the bill based on the association’s Standing Position on Safe and Secure Schools opposes “weapons” on school grounds. Sen. Scott Craig (33) said he received an email claiming that communication among board members discussing ASBSD’s position on the bill showed they supported HB 1087 “10-to-1.” ASBSD did not receive emails supporting the bill at the same proportion.
Committee members passed an amendment that removed a provision that required school boards to discuss and approve the program in executive session.
An amendment that did not gather enough committee support called for the formation of a task force to study a comprehensive plan for school safety. ASBSD supported the amendment.
“Don’t out school boards deserve to see more than one option?” Executive Director Wade Pogany asked committee members. “All I ask is that you would consider another option.”
Sen. Mark Johnston (12) supported the amendment, saying that HB 1087 “jumps to the automatic conclusion that arming is the answer.”
The bill now heads to the Senate floor, which is the final step before it reaches the Governor. For updates on it, check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.
Sunset extension one step closer
Members of the House Education committee voted 12-3 to pass Senate Bill 194, which extends the provision allowing school districts to use capital outlay funds for certain insurance, energy, utilities and motor fuel costs to 2018. ASBSD supports the bill.
“A lot of schools are having to do this,” Pogany testified. “We ask you continue the flexibility for schools in this financial time that we have.”
The provision, which was introduced in 2009, was set to expire in 2014. Each year since the capital outlay flexibility had been in place the total dollar amount has increased. In fiscal year 2009 school districts flexed a little more than $1 million with steady increases in FY 2010 and 2011 and topping out at over $15 million in FY 2012.
The bill now moves to the House floor. For updates on how it fairs, check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.
“Quotes” of Note
“We’re being really irresponsible here just in our failure to fund schools adequately.” Rep. Ray Ring (17) said during a House Education committee hearing SB 194.
“We don’t know what that tax impact would be, but we know it would be significant,” Department of Revenue representative Mike Houdyshell said about the proposed addition of a leased property tax levy.
“(Schools are) still about the safest place our children can be.” Sen. Craig Tieszen (34) said during the Senate State Affairs hearing on HB 1087.
“Schools are addressing security the best that they can.” Sen. Larry Lucas (26) said during the Senate State Affairs hearing on HB 1087.
“We need to come together and get some long-term fixes for our schools.” Rep. Scott Ecklund (25) said during a House Education committee hearing SB 194.