OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 8:42 AM – Wednesday, April 26, 2023
The Texas House has approved legislation that calls for significant investments to increase school safety across the state.
House Bill 3, which was authored by Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Texas) cleared the House, with a vote of 119-25.
The bill will require schools to hire at least one armed security officer to be present at every campus. Incentives will also be offered for administrators and other school employees to get certified to carry a weapon while on campus for safety purposes.
According to local news station, KHOU, the bill was amended to increase funding to schools for security purposes before it was passed. The cost of the bill was ultimately raised from $300 million to around $1.6 billion.
The executive director at the Texas School Alliance, HD Chambers, said that the extra funding will allow schools to individually and uniquely address their own problems that they might face.
“Access to mental health services is as important as any effort to harden campuses,” Chambers said, “Ultimately, each school district is unique and needs the resources and flexibility to enact solutions that work for its community.”
The extra funding will include an extra $15,000 per year, as well as $100 for each student who regularly attends class.
House Bill 3 will also require the Texas School Safety Center, a Texas State University think tank that reviews school safety protocols, to conduct an inspection of all school buildings to make sure that districts are following the state standards for safety.
The House also approved House Bill 13, which was authored by Representative Ken King (R-Texas), with a vote of 125-21.
House Bill 13 will provide district employees with a $25,000 incentive each year that they are certified as “school guardians,” or staff who can carry a gun in school. It would also require law enforcement officers to perform regular walkthroughs of schools, and school buildings.
The bill will also require any district employee who regularly interacts with children to attend a mental health and first-aid training program. HB13 also sets up grants of up to $250 million for schools to upgrade their security on campus.
Senate Bill 838 was also passed by the House with a 145-0 vote. Senate Bill 838, authored by Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Texas), will require schools to install silent panic buttons in every classroom in case of an emergency. The buttons would immediately alert law enforcement in case of an emergency in a classroom.
Public and open-enrollment schools will be required to install the panic buttons before the beginning of the 2025-2026 school year.
House Bill 3, and House Bill 13 now head to the State Senate. However, Senate Bill 838 had been previously approved by the Senate, and will now heads to Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) to be signed into law.
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