AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly three months after a deadly school shooting, Texas lawmakers say they’re making progress toward legislation to improve school safety.
“Everyone agrees that we’ve got to do what we can to stop and prevent these types of events from occurring in the future,” said State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood. His district includes Santa Fe, where a teenager shot and killed 10 people and wounded 13 others in Santa Fe High School.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick chose Taylor to lead the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security.
Senators on the committee had four interim charges: improving school design, studying school security options and resources, studying the root causes of mass murder in schools and examining whether the state should add “Red Flag” laws to temporarily remove firearms from a person who could pose a threat.
The committee held hearings throughout the summer. “We did learn through this process that there is no one magic solution to this and so it is going to take a series of things,” Taylor said.
The committee released its final report on Aug. 6. It’s a series of recommendations that could lead to legislation in the next session. The recommendations do not include moving forward with “Red Flag” laws in Texas.
“As far as this committee, there was not consensus on that particular issue,” Taylor explained. Some senators on the committee expressed concerns about taking guns from people without due process. Lt. Gov. Patrick seemed to end the debate after the hearing, when he issued a statement saying he and most senators opposed “Red Flag” laws.
Sen. Taylor left the door open for more discussion. “It’s just got to be done the right way,” he said. “There’ll be some more discussion on that, I’m sure.
Ideas that did get support from the committee include steps to help schools pay to add metal detectors and “hardened” entrances, legislation to pay for training for school marshals who can carry guns on campus and ways to make school counselors more available to students and ways to provide additional mental health training to school employees.
“I do believe with all this emphasis, there will be actual changes,” said State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo. Rep. Price chairs the House Public Health subcommittee, which has worked to address mental health issues in the state.
The question now is how to find funding for the school safety programs. “There’s no shortage of things that the Legislature is going to need to spend on,” Houston Chronicle reporter Andrea Zelinski said during an interview on the State of Texas politics program.
She noted the demand for funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery and the need for money to shore up the state budget. “It’s going to be a monumental task next year,” she concluded.