Republican leaders reach agreement on Gov. Walker's school safety plan

Republicans in the Assembly and Senate struck a deal on a Governor Scott Walker’s school safety plan. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) told reporters his chamber plans to take up the package with some minor changes.

Gov. Walker’s plan would provide $100 million in grants to help schools and police with safety plans and training. Earlier this week, Walker’s proposed plan was in jeopardy, but that changed after negotiations with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Sen. Fitzgerald.

The Senate version keeps parts of the Governor’s plan like a opening a new office of school safety. Fitzgerald’s proposal has one person staffing this office, down for Governor Walker’s original plan of four. Fitzgerald says it was a give and take, but there was unity.

“Doesn't matter what party you're in, physical security for schools throughout the state is very important and i think this is what this bill does," said Fitzgerald.

The Senate also dropped the requirement for parents to be notified of bullying in the classroom within 48 hours. Current law already calls for notification, but some thought the time frame would be too strict.

“This looks like it's a little far reaching and I’ve been hearing that from some other members as well. That's an area that was in the governor's original package that we'll deal with it later time."

Other portions removed from Walker’s plan was allowing law enforcement to obtain school surveillance footage after a school shooting. The Governor’s plan still requires the Attorney General’s office to report all school threats, but some democrats wanted more in the legislation.

"Students and community members are calling for action on gun safety, unfortunately we are seeing elected officials in power side with the NRA rather than strengthening gun laws in Wisconsin," said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse).

While the Senate plans to vote on these bills, the Assembly held their first public hearing on the six bills included in the governor's school safety package. They plan to vote on Thursday when they return for an extraordinary session. Democratic members of the education committee expressed concerns with rushing the package.  Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) issued the following statement:

“There are several issues with this legislative package– first and foremost, it does nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and those who shouldn't legally have them. The $100 million spent in this rushed legislation is offered to schools through a grant program at the leisure of the Attorney General, who has publicly expressed support for the misguided policy of training teachers to be armed with guns. The Attorney General would have the ability to reject a district’s proposal at his department's discretion, including based on whether or not that school’s plan includes arming teachers.”

During testimony, Attorney General Brad Schimel says if all goes well, he hopes to start distributing grants to school districts before the end of the school year.

For more go to WKOW:

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