- Laws banning the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in mass shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook and Parkland.
- Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines
- Closing loopholes in background check laws that allows people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to buy guns online or at gun shows.
Keeping Schools Safe
The safety of our schools has become an issue of increasing concern to Iowans. Recent tragedies in other states have highlighted the need to ensure that precautions are in place to protect our students, teachers, and staff members. This legislative session, we have taken multiple steps to help school districts become better prepared to protect our kids.
This week, the House passed Senate File 2364 which requires every Iowa school district to coordinate with local law enforcement to develop an active shooter plan. This legislation also requires teachers to go through active shooter training once a year so they are better prepared in case of an emergency. This is an effort to meet an important need in our schools.
While many schools districts already have a strategy in place, some of their plans are inadequate, while others have no plan at all. An informal survey of districts done in 2015 found that of 249 respondent school districts, roughly 85% of them had an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in place. But the findings from the emergency management association doing the survey found that only 24 of those districts, or 9.6%, had plans that met the FEMA guidelines for what constitutes a “high quality” EOP. A follow-up survey determined that the number rose slightly, to 11.2%, but this is still not sufficient.
The plans that local districts are to develop would take into consideration recommendations from the Department of Education for what makes a plan high quality. These elements come from the federal guidelines and consist primarily of five concepts: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. School districts would also have to consult and work with their local emergency management organizations and local law enforcement agencies in the development of their plans. Their plans would need to be reviewed annually and each district would need to conduct annual training and drills.
The bill passed the House with bipartisan support and will return to the Senate with a small amendment for final consideration before moving to the Governor for signing into law. Once signed, it will help protect Iowa students and school staff by ensuring that if the terrible situation of an active shooter arises, our schools will be prepared.
The House also recently passed House File 2441. This bill allows schools to have greater flexibility and control over their resources by allowing them to direct more funding to hire school security personnel. Along with this, is consideration of extending the school infrastructure fund (SAVE) which allows schools to make needed improvements to ensure they have modern facilities and state of the art technology. An added benefit to passing the SAVE extension is that schools could use these funds to make security upgrades to their facilities in order to improve safety.
House Republicans are committed to ensuring safe schools for both students and school employees. We will continue to look for common sense opportunities to build on these efforts.