Texas bill proposes up to $25k for school employees authorized to act as armed guards

State lawmakers in Texas advanced a bill Tuesday suggesting stipends of up to $25,000 for public school staff members who become designated guardians authorized to carry or possess a weapon while working on the premises. House Bill 13, which focuses on “training, preparedness, and funding for school safety and emergencies,” passed with bipartisan support and now heads to the state Senate where it’s fate is uncertain. Texas lawmakers have until May 29 to pass school safety measures before adjourning without a set return date. If passed, the bill would allow teachers and staff of public and open-enrollment charter schools within the state to be eligible for the School Guardian Training stipend. Approved employees would ultimately be agreeing to acting as campus security in addition to their regular role(s). They would also be required to take courses in first aid, firearms training and rigorous mental health training, which would be on top of the mental health training Texas lawmakers want to require for all school employees. FLORIDA SEN. SCOTT BILL WILL FUND ARMED OFFICERS IN ALL US SCHOOLS Rep. Ken King, a Republican who authored the bill, said the legislation comes “in light of the tragedies that have occurred in Texas schools over the past years.” “HB 13 allows districts to create a safety plan that works best for their local community while ensuring a minimum standard for all,” King tweeted on Tuesday. King also said he hopes the stipend would help school employees be able to identify the children who need help before a problem arises, according to The Associated Press. Other school safety measures advancing in the Texas legislature include requiring at least one armed person on all public school campuses – that person could be a police officer, a school staff member or someone of the like.  A bill requiring silent panic buttons in classrooms is also awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. TENNESSEE GOVERNOR TO EXPAND PROPOSAL FOR ARMED GUARDS IN SCHOOLS AFTER NASHVILLE SHOOTING Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat and former middle school teacher, voted against Tuesday’s proposal after expressing concerns that it would create an incentive for teachers struggling financially to start carrying weapons. “Even teachers who don’t want to carry guns may feel like they are financially pressured to do so just so they can provide for their families,” Talarico said. Teachers in Texas are already allowed to carry guns as long as they participate in required firearm lessons, but the program has drawn few takers, according to The AP. TEXAS OFFICIALS: UVALDE SHOOTING REPORT REVEALS ‘MULTIPLE SYSTEMIC FAILURES’ The bill’s advancement comes nearly a month before the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. As mass shootings in America are on pace to hit a record high in 2023, there have been calls for more armed personnel in schools across the country from both civilians and lawmakers. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, of Florida, proposed an $80 million program that would fund armed officers in all schools. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, Texas created a voluntary school marshal program allowing districts to appoint vetted peace officers with the sole purpose of protecting students and teachers during an active shooter situation. Applicants must complete various requirements, including 80 hours of training and pass a psychological exam. In its first four years, the program certified just 33 school marshals across the state, which has about 9,000 campuses, The AP reported. By summer 2022, shortly after Uvalde, there were still fewer than 400. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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