Lawmakers fail to pass school safety measure

News Service of Florida

For the first time since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in 2018, Florida lawmakers failed to pass legislation addressing school safety. 

The House and Senate were unable to hash out their differences on the bill, and the proposal died in the final hours of the 2020 legislative session last Friday night. The measure (HB 7065) incorporated several recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and a statewide grand jury impaneled last year to investigate whether school districts were complying with school safety laws enacted after the Parkland shooting. 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas students inspired a nation-wide march against gun violence in 2018.
Photo special to the Outlook

Some of the bill’s provisions would have made small changes to the school guardian program’s training procedures, required school districts to create plans to reunify families in the wake of tragedy and prohibited the arrests of certain children under the age of 7.

Speaking to reporters shortly after midnight, House Speaker Jose Oliva appeared to have been caught off guard by the bill’s demise, which he said was unfortunate.

“I am wondering a little bit myself what happened to it. Maybe the fact that it was so important to all of us, it got caught up in the details,” Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said.

Lawmakers extended the 60-day session, which was scheduled to end last Friday, for another week, but only to consider the budget and related bills. Votes on policy issues, such as the school safety measure, concluded shortly before midnight Friday. 

Senate President Bill Galvano, who pushed a sweeping school safety measure in the weeks following the 2018 shooting in Broward County, blamed the bill’s failure to pass this year on differences between the two chambers. 

The good news is that, as these bills get out from the original bill, they become more technical and not as substantive in nature,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, told reporters. “A lot of these issues, the school districts are starting to address them on their own.”

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