Senate passes school safety measure, leaves others for deadline day

By Steve Wilson
March 12, 2019

The Mississippi Senate passed a bill intended to promote school safety Tuesday and bypassed some key reform bills, setting up a busy calendar on the deadline.

Wednesday is the final day for general (non-revenue bills) to pass out of the other chamber.

The Senate declined to take up House Bill 1352, the criminal justice reform package and HB 1268 which would change procedures governing constitutional challenges to local ordinances. Both bills maintain their places on the calendar.

HB 1205 was also bypassed by the Senate. It would prohibit state agencies from releasing or requesting donor information from 501(c) non-profit organizations. And HB 702, which would expand cottage food operations in the state, was also passed.

In the morning session, the Senate passed a bill, HB 1283 that is intended to address school safety. The bill would require school districts to develop and conduct an active shooter drill within the first 60 days of the start of each semester.

It would also establish a monitoring center connected with federal data systems with three regional analysts monitoring social media for threats.

The bill would also create a pilot program for six school districts with a curriculum for children in kindergarten through fifth grade with “skills for managing stress and anxiety.” The pilot plan would be federally funded.

It would also mandate that all school district employees receive refresher training on mental health and suicide prevention every two years.

The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security would also develop a curriculum to train and certify threat assessment officers, which would be required to conduct an annual inspection and threat assessment of each school in the state. They’d be required to inspect surveillance equipment and floorplans.

Teachers and administrators would also be trained in conducting what the bill calls behavioral health screenings for students.

The Mississippi Department of Education will develop and implement a statewide media campaign based on the concept of “see something, say something.”

The school safety bill will return to the House for concurrence, since it was amended in the other chamber. If the House concurs with the changes made to the bill, it’ll be headed to Gov. Phil Bryant.

If not, the bill will go to a conference committee to smooth out the differences.

The Senate also passed a bill, HB 977, that would allow out-of-state, licensed physicians the ability provide treatment to players and coaches at sporting events.

An amendment similar to several dead bills that would’ve allowed licensed medical professionals to practice in the state for charity failed on a voice vote. The amendment was authored by state Sen. Angela Hill (R-Picayune) and failed on a voice vote.


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