AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas lawmakers will consider 17 bills aimed at enhancing school safety in the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety on Monday.
The hearing, conducted by a special committee formed after the tragic Robb Elementary massacre in May, comes hours after another mass school shooting left three children and three adults dead in Nashville, Tennessee.
House Bill 3 is the legislature’s sweeping school safety bill and is at the top of the committee’s agenda. It is authored by State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), who also chaired the House’s investigation into the Robb Elementary school shooting.
HB 3 requires Texas schools to meet enhanced security standards for their physical infrastructure and mandates school districts place at least one armed security officer at every campus. It also requires districts to implement a “multihazard emergency operations plan” and perform intruder detection audits every year.
Under that bill, school districts would receive at least $15,000 per campus every year to fund infrastructure enhancements, purchase security cameras, hire security officers, provide mental health services, and more. The Legislative Budget Board anticipates all of the bill’s provisions to cost the state about $293 million for the next two years.
HB 13 by State Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) requires every school district employee who interacts with students to complete a “mental health first aid” training program to learn how to recognize mental health issues that may threaten school safety. It also authorizes and funds schools to designate “school guardians,” who are school employees trained to carry a firearm on campus.
Under this bill, each school district would be required to implement an active shooter preparedness plan that provides law enforcement in the area the opportunity to walk through campuses and learn about their security infrastructure.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) has filed a series of bills also hoping to enhance school safety. He hosted families of victims killed in Uvalde at the Texas Capitol for a series of weekly press conferences demanding firearm restrictions.
SB 145 by Gutierrez would raise the age to purchase firearms to 21. A gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde with an assault-style rifles shortly after his 18th birthday.
Gutierrez told KXAN multiple Republican senators have privately expressed their openness to the ban, but none have done so publicly. The faces slim odds in the Texas Senate.
SB 737 would create a new arm of the Department of Public Safety called the Texas School Patrol. The agency would staff every public school in Texas with at least one armed officer.
SB 738 addresses the systematic failures of the law enforcement response to Robb Elementary shooting on May 24, 2022, in which hundreds of officers waiting for 77 minutes to confront the gunman inside a classroom. The bill would require each law enforcement agency to have functional radios and interagency mass shooter training after communication and chains of command broke down in Uvalde.
All bills heard in the the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety were left pending Monday.