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Senate Education Committee Approves Bill to Pay for Firearms Training in Schools (Update)

KUT News

Update: The Senate Education Committee approved a bill Thursday that would pay to train teachers and employees who carry weapons on school property.

There’s a new push for a cap on the cost for the training, but now it looks like even that would be more than enough.

The bill would rely mainly on private donations. If there’s not enough private funding, the state would allocate one million. Senator Dan Patrick (R- Harris County) is sponsoring the bill. He says out a the entire state budget, one million for security is worth it. 

“I think a lot of our parents in Texas would say if our school boards want to do it, with all the money were spending on everything, there’s nothing more important than protecting the lives of our students," Patrick said to the committee Thursday. 

Patrick says, so far, three school districts have expressed interest in the training and a few districts are pending. He says that’s an estimated cost of a couple thousand dollars. The bill only applies to school districts that don’t already have armed officers.

The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and the Senate Finance Committee also discussed a bill that would allow school boards to create taxing district to pay for security guards on school property. 

Senator Tommy Williams (R-Houston) wrote the Texas School District Safety Act with Democratic Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston). It requires voter approval to amend the Texas Constitution to allow the property or sales tax. According to Senator Williams' office, the bill may not even come out of committee due to a lack of support.

Both bills are in response to the December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Original Story: Two bills regarding school security are up for discussion at the Texas Legislature today. One bill would let voters decide if they want to pay for armed guards at public schools.

It is bipartisan legislation written by Senators Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) and John Whitmire (D-Houston).

The Texas School District Security Act would also allow voters to set up taxing districts to pay for the armed guards. However, that may require an amendment to the state Constitution.

The Senate Education Committee is also discussing a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Dan Patrick. It would allow for state-paid firearms training for teachers and employees at public schools and charter schools without armed guards.

The bills are in response to the December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

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