Lawmakers end legislative session without school safety bill

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —Thousands of students across the state of Indiana walked out of their classrooms Wednesday as part of a movement to recognize the lives of 17 people killed during a shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The protests advocated for stricter gun legislation and increased school safety. But hours later, Indiana lawmakers let the clock run out on a bill that would’ve bolstered school safety.

House Bill 1230 would’ve added money for grants to help schools take measures such as employ a school resource officer, conduct a threat assessments and Purchase equipment to restrict access to the school or expedite the notification of first responders.

It would have also required the Department of Education to conduct audits of safety plans, and allowed schools access to low-interest loans for security upgrades. But, state lawmakers ended their 2018 legislative session without passing it.

“The biggest disappointment is that it would’ve given millions and millions of dollars to schools for student safety,” Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) said.

McNamara authored HB 1230, she says within the last hours of the session, the bill got held up in the senate over changes in the amount of money that would come from the common school fund, and then again in the rules committee. Now she says she just hopes some of the measures including in the bill find new life outside of legislative chambers.

“There’s a lot of really good legislation in there. Every piece, and every part of it was protecting kids,” she said.

Some of the measures in the bill can be taken up by Governor Holcomb. In a statement Holcomb promised to “look at all that can be done to complete unfinished business.”

McNamara said if that didn’t happen, she plans on re-introducing the bill next session.

As legislators look to the future, those critical of the bill’s failure are expressing concern. Theresa Meredith, the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association says she found it alarming that lawmakers could pass bill on Sunday liquor sales and eyeball tattoos but not school safety.

“I think when you look at what came out of this legislative session at the end of the day when it’s all hashed out and we get the final analysis .. This is one piece that probably should have been  much higher priority than anything on the list and it didn’t even survive,” she said.

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