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Texas House Passes School Safety Bills, Not Including Gun Control

The Texas House on Monday passed legislation calling for significant investments to beef up school safety, including hiring at least one armed security officer at every campus, providing incentives for school employees to be certified for carrying a weapon, and installing silent panic alert buttons in every classroom, the Texas Tribune reports. House Bill 3, authored by Rep. Dustin Burrows passed 122-19. The proposal would require regular safety inspections of school buildings and would give grants to students who want to attend another school district if their current one is not complying with safety standards. he bill was amended to give schools $100 for each student who regularly attends classes, plus an additional $15,000 each year, to upgrade security. The change would raise the cost of the bill from $300 million to about $1.6 billion. HD Chambers of the Texas School Alliance says it's important that the state strike the right balance between making schools safer and not creating environments where children are afraid to go to school. “Access to mental health services is as important as any effort to harden campuses,” he said. “Ultimately, each school district is unique and needs the resources and flexibility to enact solutions that work for its community."

School safety is a priority for both chambers after the Uvalde shooting left 19 children and two teachers dead last year. The House voted on three school safety bills less than a week after the Senate passed a proposal to make sure that hundreds of Texas school districts without active-shooter plans get up to speed. The Senate’s bill includes many of the provisions in the House bills passed Monday. While both chambers have passed bills on school security in response to Uvalde, it is unclear whether lawmakers will listen to Uvalde families who want to raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21. During the floor debate, Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos proposed an amendment that would bar teachers from being armed on campus. Under the current language of the bill, a school district could arm a teacher to meet the requirements of having an armed officer at every campus. The amendment failed. Robin Breed of Moms Demand Action, which advocates public safety policies to protect people from gun violence, was disappointed that the amendment wasn’t approved. “Law enforcement officers like those that were at Uvalde have enormous training requirements,” she said. “We know that even with those training requirements, those officers at Uvalde were unable or unwilling to stop that shooter. So, asking a teacher to be able to perform better than the officers is ridiculous.”


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