Jumping Frog wrote:Looks like Bill SB 17 was vetoed by the Governor yesterday.
Again, what is SB 17?
Somewhat lengthy to read and decipher: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/ ... 00017F.htm
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While the general concept looked good at first glance, the bill was, unfortunately, full of holes and undefined items. I have no doubt that if it had been clearer--and more pragmatically written--Perry would have signed it. It isn't the arming of teachers that he had a problem with; after all, he signed HB 1009 and SB 1857 yesterday. IMHO, the overriding issues were funding, definition of trainee/licensee responsibilities, and definition of the training itself.
In essence, the bill said that DPS will establish and maintain a training program--to be conducted at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University, San Marcos--a school safety training program for employees, who must already hold a CHL, of a school district or open-enrollement charter schools. Each school year, DPS would provide the training at no charge for every school campus that does not have full-time security personnel or commissioned LEOs, thus leaving out most of the major metropolitan school districts. Schools could opt to pay for--at their and subsequently taxpayer expense--training of additional school employees beyond the two per school year.
The bill intended money for the training come from a "school safety training fund" to be created as a special fund in the state treasury, which coffers were intended to be filled by gifts, grants, and donations. DPS would have been allowed to spend up to, but no more than, $1 million of state funds in any fiscal biennium...meaning two-year periods coinciding with the legislative sessions. Therefore, if "gifts, grants, and donations" couldn't bear the lion's share of the costs, and the $1 million extra didn't cut it, the training would have to cease until new "gifts, grants, and donations" could be raised, or until the next state fiscal biennium rolled around and another $1 million became available.
The biggest problem I see with the proposal is that there is no measure of guaranteed sustainability. Introducing a large-scale training program like this requires significant planning, preparation, implementation, and staffing. The estimated annual cost of operating the program is $10 million. The way the bill reads, if at any time the "gifts, grants, and donations" and the maximum $1 million (per two-year period) from regular state funding isn't present, the whole thing has to be shut down. As a program manager, this would be a logistical nightmare. If you've had to hire and train additional instructors and staff to handle thousands of new students each year at TSU San Marcos, what do you do with them if the money runs out? Theoretically, you might operate for six months, then be shut down for a year-and-a-half. This not to mention the logistical complexity for the school districts who would no doubt be planning up to a year in advance to send select personnel for the training...in part because they would also need to be budgeting taxpayer dollars for the trainees' travel, room, and board.
In essence--and in school district terminology--the bill was kind of like committing to build a new football stadium before ever having a school bond referendum.
Secondly, there was significant word-count in the bill devoted to limitation of liabilities, indemnifying everyone from the whole Texas State University System to any officer of the DPS. But it never even attempted to define the role of the school employee who had completed the training course, or even give that role a name or specific designation. They would simply be CHL holders who have the right to carry on school premises...which Texas law already allows without extra, state-funded training
, dependent upon the policies of the school or school district.
Governor Perry did
sign HB 1009 yesterday, which allows school boards and charter schools to appoint employees as school marshals
and pay for them to receive training from the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. The employee will be permitted to have a handgun on campus, the cost of training is the school district's responsibility and, importantly, it defines the role and scope of the school marshal: "a school marshal may make arrests and exercise all authority given peace officers under this code, subject to written regulations adopted by the board of trustees of a school district or the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school under Section 37.0811, Education Code, and only act as necessary to prevent or abate the commission of an offense that threatens serious bodily injury or death of students, faculty, or visitors on school premises."
Lastly, SB 17 did not define the type of training, only that DPS "...shall, with technical assistance based on the best practices developed for law enforcement officers by the training center, establish and maintain a training program in school safety and the protection of students." In other words, no curriculum currently exists, would have to be developed, and there is no requirement for standards, testing, or audit. Under HB 1009, on the other hand, school employees would go through a minimum of 80 hours of TCLOSE training, be administered a psychological examination, have license expiration and renewal defined, and will be a designated a Law Enforcement Officer under the Code of Criminal Procedure, albeit a LEO with limited jurisdiction and one that receives no state benefits normally provided to a peace officer.