Bill still a rough draft
Bill still a rough draft
A first draft of legislation that corresponds to Gov. Doug Ducey’s school safety plan surfaced in the Arizona legislature Tuesday.
A rough draft of the bill, obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times and which can be viewed below, aims to curtail gun violence in public schools. The legislation includes provisions to take guns away from those deemed a danger to themselves or others, mandatory active shooter training for school resource officers, creation of a school safety center within the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center and mental health first-aid training for public school students across the state.
Ducey introduced his school safety plan in the wake of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The 51-page bill is so new it doesn’t have a bill number yet, but it details a number of the priorities Ducey called for when he unveiled the plan weeks ago, and in some cases, the amount of money Ducey proposes to spend in order to make his plan a reality.
A spokesman for the governor’s office said the draft, obtained Tuesday, is not the final version of the legislation.
“There are more changes that need to be made that will continue to be made over the next day or two,” said Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato. “We hope to introduce a final bill that addresses some of the issues that members have this week.”
A major pillar of Ducey’s plan — to create a Severe Threat Order of Protection, or STOP order by which law enforcement, family members or someone else can petition the court to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms — is included in the bill. Should a court determine a person may be a threat to themselves or others after being evaluated by a behavioral health professional, the court can prohibit the person from possessing firearms for up to 180 days.
The bill also calls for all school districts that issue student identification cards to include the safe schools hotline number on all student IDs starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
The legislation also beefs up school safety training requirements for teachers, school resource officers and calls for “age-appropriate” training for students. Nearly $600,000 would be provided to the Department of Public Safety to create a new Center for School Safety, which would house a statewide hotline for students to report suspicious activity.
School districts and charter schools may also enter into agreements to hire reserve law enforcement officers to serve as campus security officers, according to the proposed legislation. As pitched by the governor’s staff, those agreements would be voluntary, and made only if local school officials desired.
The governor’s office has also been able to identify additional resources to help fund more school resource officers, Scarpinato said. The bill provides an additional $2 million to the Department of Education for those positions.
Should sufficient funds be available, the legislation would require school districts to hire contractors that would be able to provide mental health first-aid training and behavioral health services to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
To that effect, the bill provides a $2 million appropriation, to be matched by $6 million in federal funding, that would provide students covered by Medicaid or KidsCare with access to counselors.
Another $450,000 is provided to fund mental health first-aid training for students.
As drafted, the bill is also notable for what it lacks. Democrats have called Ducey’s proposal ineffective so long as it lacks universal background checks and a ban on bump stocks, but those provisions are not included in the legislation. The minority party has vowed to vote against the plan as proposed by Ducey weeks ago.
Nor does it include plans to arm teachers, as proposed by some Republican leaders who support a school marshall program, by which teachers, coaches and school administrators could volunteer to undergo hours of firearms training before being able to use a gun at schools to respond to school shootings.
Scarpinato called Ducey’s plan a “middle-of-the-road approach” to school safety reform.
“I think that there’s some folks on either extreme that have some ideological views on these things, but ultimately, we think that we’ll be able to come to a consensus plan that any reasonable person who really wants to deal with these issues could get behind,” he said.