Michigan School Safety Bills Begin Hearings
Early versions of Michigan’s school safety reforms turn more toward camps safety and away from gun laws, but the size and application of new funding remains uncertain, U.S. News & World Report says.
Lawmakers agree that school security funding has been a long-neglected priority, and the Senate unanimously approved an extra $18.6 million for school safety initiatives this fiscal year. The funding is to be spent on grants for physical building enhancements and safety assessments, a new “panic button” smartphone app system and a $650,000 expansion of the attorney general’s OK2SAY confidential tip line. The House decided to earmark $25 million for school safety in next year’s budget.
Hearings began in the House last week on a bipartisan school safety package, which would establish a school safety commission to control the funds being debated in the state legislature. The commission would be responsible for creating, inspecting and grading schools’ safety metrics, and it would steer funds for improvements based on its findings.
The money from the Senate’s appropriations bill is an upgrade from the $2 million that the state had set aside for school security in 2017, but Democrats say it doesn’t go far enough to address dwindling counselor and mental health resources in some Michigan schools. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said the Senate’s $18.6 million appropriations bill must be a “first step, not a final commitment.”