The same day students across the nation staged demonstrations around school safety, Indiana lawmakers failed to pass a bill to address the same issue in the final minutes of the 2018 legislative session. It passed the Senate, but lawmakers in the House failed to vote on the bill before the midnight deadline.
The bill originally focused on cyberbullying and human trafficking. After the deadly school shooting in Florida, lawmakers added language to require charter and non-public schools maintain safety and emergency plans, among other changes.
It also would have added $5 million Gov. Eric Holcomb requested for the state’s school safety grant fund.
But Republican leaders from both chambers say there are other ways to get some of the bill’s provisions into action.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long says provisions around schools using the state’s common school fund to improve security caused problems during negotiations around the final version of the bill. But ultimately, he says, there is general agreement.
“I don’t think that’s a bill that’s going to cause anybody any concern at all if it comes back up,” Long says.
And in the House, where the bill failed, Speaker Brian Bosma says some parts of the bill can be taken care of without being added to code. That includes looking for ways to allow the budget committee to put more money toward school safety programs, and assessing what schools are doing to prepare and plan for different emergencies.
“The administration is going to undertake – and we’re going to encourage the Department of Education to do the same – the audit of the school safety plans,” Bosma says.
If that aligns with language from the bill, the state could audit all public school safety plans by August 2019. Some lawmakers have even mentioned the possibility of a special session later this year, meaning a revived version of the bill could be voted on then.
This story has been updated.