Central Texas Congressman promotes school safety bill

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BEE CAVE, Texas (Nexstar) — In order to improve school safety, a Congressman from Central Texas has introduced legislation to create grant funding for districts to pay for campus security assessments.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, promoted his bipartisan legislation at a new middle school in Bee Cave, Texas, a suburb of Austin, on Wednesday.

The legislation is dubbed the School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019. It would allocate $2 billion over 10 years to provide grant money for schools to identify risks and make security upgrades.

It was partially born out of the deadly shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston. After the attack, the school implemented additional security measures. Williams hopes other schools will consider similar updates to prevent future violence on campus.

“As a nation we already invest the time and resources to protect so many other areas of our community,” he said. “We protect airports, government buildings and high profile politicians. Why do we not place a similar value on our school buildings, where every day the future of our nation goes to learn and develop?”

“Every three years, school districts are required to conduct a safety audit on their facilities and ensure a safe environment that is conducive to learning,” Williams said. “The federal government must become a partner with states and take the initiative to provide grants so schools can ensure a security weakness is fully and properly addressed.”

The legislation also includes a provision to expand a program that installs silent alarm systems to directly alert law enforcement of a school security emergency. That initiative was created after a deadly mass shooting in a high school in Parkland, Florida.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Williams was asked about project funding concerns for Fort Hood, which is in his district. The federal government has authorized more than 100 military projects to be shelved to divert funding to Pres. Trump’s border wall.

“I do support my country and also support my district and I’m going to fight for Fort Hood,” Williams said.

“I am for border security but I am also for Fort Hood,” Williams said. “So we are going to have a conversation tonight and we will see exactly where Fort Hood stands and we will be able to talk about it tomorrow.”

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