The decade's most triggering comedy
Texas state lawmakers advanced a public school safety bill on Sunday requiring certain district employees to undergo mental health training and all campuses to staff at least one armed security guard during regular school hours.
Both chambers passed House Bill 3 just more than a year after a lone gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school — the third-deadliest mass school shooting in American history.
“It’s time to act,” Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) said, according to The Texas Tribune. “We need to prevent the next Uvalde.”
King and other Texas state Republicans praised the bill, while Democratic lawmakers signaled concerns over budget issues and providing armed security on school grounds.
“The potential for disastrous consequences is staggering,” Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) said, according to the Tribune.
The sweeping measure includes several protocols and other provisions to protect students, staff, and faculty from active shooter threats across the Lone Star State.
According to the bill, peace officers, school resource officers, school marshals, or school district employees could qualify as armed security guards for each campus. The measure would also require school employees who interact with children regularly to complete an “evidence-based mental health first-aid training program.”
The bill grants the Texas Education Agency authority to create safety and security departments, conduct annual vulnerability assessments on every school campus, and requires the agency to notify parents of “violent activity.”
The bill would also require regional safety teams to conduct on-site general intruder detection audits of school district campuses annually.
The Texas School Safety Center, a think tank at the Texas State University, would conduct a review every five years to ensure the best practices and security measures for campuses.
County sheriff’s departments in areas with fewer than 350,000 people must also hold semi-annual meetings to discuss school safety and law enforcement response to “violent incidents.”
According to the Tribune, law enforcement must also ensure all radio communications properly work following the “chaotic, uncoordinated scene” when nearly 400 authorities from different agencies responded to the school shooting in Uvalde.
“This is a huge win for the safety of our children,” Rep. Carrie Isaa (R-Dripping Springs) said, according to the Tribune.
House Bill 3 now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) desk for signature.