Florida House and Senate bills emerge to address school safety.
In response to the Parkland tragedy, legislative proposals in Tallahassee are being formulated, discussed and will be voted on in the coming weeks. As Flagler’s member of the Florida Senate, I would like to give an update on what is in the proposed Senate legislation.
The Senate has focused its response into two separate concepts that are in two bills, SB 7022 Firearm Safety and SB 7026 School Safety. These bills are up in the Rules committee as I write today (Feb. 26), and they will be merged into one bill.
In regards to firearms, the Senate bill would establish new restrictions on purchases and ownership of all types of firearm. The bill increases the minimum age for purchasing to 21 excepting law enforcements and active military while mandating a three-day waiting period for purchases excepting concealed weapons permit holders or those completing a 16-hour hunter safety course.
In addition, the bill would ban bump stocks in Florida.
In conjunction with purchase restrictions, the bill enhances restrictions for persons subject to involuntary examination and commitment or Baker Act. The bill would provide law enforcement the tools to temporarily restrict firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence.
In regards to school safety, the Senate bill improves school security capabilities while establishing safety standards with review and implementation protocols.
The bill would institute a “marshal” program to enhance safety and security in schools by law enforcement trained and screened school personnel.
The bill would improve responses to students presenting a danger to themselves or others.
In addition, the bill would institute reforms to improve coordination and information sharing between school personnel, law enforcement and service agencies.
Finally, a funding component increasing state dollars for mental health training, screening, counseling and services in schools is included in the Senate’s proposal.
These proposals will be going through the committee process this week, where they will be debated and amendments will be considered. I, however, will not be voting on the bills until they reach the Senate floor. I will reserve taking an official position until I see the language I will be voting on because the bill will change many times before it gets to the floor.
I will use the intervening time to follow the debate in committee and listen to constituents’ concerns, so please do not hesitate to contact my office on this issue. I realize any legislation will go too far for some and do too little for others, but it is important we have this conversation and ultimately take some action to prevent another tragedy like this happening in Florida again.
Travis Hutson represents District 7, including Flagler County, in the Florida Senate. Visit flsenate.gov/Senators/s7.