The early part of the week saw lots of activity in the legislature in regards to gun and school safety related bills. On Monday Feb. 26, 2018, during a Senate Rules Committee hearing a wide ranging school safety plan was approved in what was described as a “raucous” meeting.
Student survivors and family members spoke vehemently in favor of an amendment that would ban assault - style weapons which grew particularly heated and the amendment ended up failing. The school safety plan approved by the Senate Rules committee is $400 million bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, that would give specially trained teachers the ability to bring guns to schools, ban people under 21 from buying rifles or other long guns, and allow law enforcement officers to get court orders to take guns away from mentally ill people they categorize as dangerous.
On Tuesday Feb. 27 the bill went to the Senate Appropriations Committee. That same day a similar school safety bill was heard in a House committee and approved 23-6. The House appropriations committee earlier rejected an amendment 18 -11 that would ban assault rifles.
Governor Scott met with officials in Miami-Dade County on Tuesday about his plans to pass a $500 million school safety bill prior to the end of session on Friday March 9, 2018. Unveiled last Friday Feb. 23, the governor’s goals are numerous and include:
Increase in law enforcement and mental health counselors at schools
Make buildings more secure with metal detectors and steel doors
Create an anonymous tip line
Create a “Violent Threat Restraining Order” which would prevent a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm or any other weapon
Mandate a law enforcement officer in every school, at least 1 per 1000 students
Criminal penalties for threats to schools
Age requirement of 21 years old to purchase a firearm
Increase in funding for the Safe Schools Allocation. Additionally, School districts must also take all capital outlay funds received from taxpayers and use it for school hardening before it can be spent on any other capital outlay. All safe school allocations must be spent in accordance with the sheriff approved plans.
Each Sheriff’s Office would be required to have a DCF case manager within their department to work as a “crisis welfare worker” for repeat cases in the community.