Florida School Safety Legislation Dies On Last Day of Session
Amid coronavirus fears and budget debates, the House and Senate could not come together to finalize updates to Florida’s school safety laws.
- By Haley Samsel
- March 16, 2020
On the last day of the Florida legislative session on Friday, the House and Senate failed to resolve its differences on school safety legislation that would have made key updates to its original 2018 law, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The bill would have provided more mental health training for school safety officers, required districts to develop emergency reunification plans for parents and kids, and given sheriff’s offices more responsibility in conducting background checks on school guardians and training security officers.
In addition, the legislation contained an amendment that would have required school officers from arresting children younger than seven years-old under many circumstances, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The legislation had bipartisan support, making its failure on the last day of the session more shocking to legislators who championed it. House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Republican, said that “things got caught up in the details.”
“This is the first year we don’t make some changes,” Oliva told the Sun-Sentinel. “We have done a great deal of work in the area of school safety. We will continue to do a great deal of work. It’s unfortunate that this one bill couldn’t get through.”
Fears of the coronavirus and the scramble to address the upcoming crisis played some role in bills dying on the last day of the session, according to The Tampa Bay Times. Legislators plan to return to the capitol in Tallahassee this week to finalize the budget, but established rules prevent them from taking up other bills. (Some lawmakers are also concerned about returning to vote because of the possibility of spreading the coronavirus between legislators).
Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican, said that the Senate stood behind its version of the school safety bill, and pointed to the passage of Alyssa’s Law, which will require the installation of panic alarms in all Florida schools. In addition, funding for school-based mental health programs increased from $75 million to $100 million.
Galvano told the Sun-Sentinel that more will be done on school safety in the wake of the 2018 Parkland shooting that sparked widespread activism on the issue: “Sit tight. We are going to stay on it.”
Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.