The Woodward News

Local News

April 4, 2013

School safety bills approved by committee

Woodward, Okla. — OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Public schools would be required to annually provide updated emergency response plans to local law enforcement authorities under one of three school security bills approved on Wednesday by a House committee.

The House Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the three bills that included recommendations from a school security task force created following the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 students and six educators dead. All three measures already cleared the Senate and now proceed to the full House, where they are expected to pass easily.

"I look forward to seeing these bills passed on the House floor and signed into law by the governor because I believe these are measures that actively seek to make our children safer," House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said in a statement. "These bills will help both schools and law enforcement be better prepared for emergencies, both natural and manmade."

Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman are the House and Senate authors for all three bills and a fourth measure approved last week that would require public schools to conduct drills to prepare students and teachers for possible intruders.

The three bills approved Wednesday require schools to report emergency response plans to local law enforcement, create a school security institute, and require schools to report the discovery of firearms on campus to local police.

The bills resulted from the recommendations of a 22-member School Security Commission that was chaired by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former Secret Service agent.

While the panel recommended several changes, it did not take a position on a separate proposal that would have allowed school districts to develop policies to allow armed teachers in classrooms. That bill easily passed the House on a 68-23 vote, but wasn't granted a hearing by Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and is likely dormant for the session.

Despite its broad support in the House, that bill was opposed by many school officials because of safety and liability concerns.

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