Texas House passes bill requiring panic buttons to be installed in classrooms to better stop school shootings
The Texas Legislature has passed a bill requiring silent panic buttons in classrooms across the state, which comes just days after the anniversary of last year’s shooting in Uvalde, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
House Bill 3 cleared the chamber with a vote of 119-25. It now heads to the Senate.
A mass shooting took place in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022.
The bill is among a few safety measures intending to bolster school safety that the Texas Legislature has implemented in the wake of the shooting, which also includes the hiring of at least one armed security officer at every campus and offering incentives for administrators and other school employees to carry a weapon.
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Before its passage, the bill was amended to increase school funding for security purposes, KHOU reported.
HD Chambers, the executive director of the Texas School Alliance, said the funding allows each school to uniquely address its own problems.
“Access to mental health services is as important as any effort to harden campuses,” Chambers said, KHOU reported. “Ultimately, each school district is unique and needs the resources and flexibility to enact solutions that work for its community.”
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The funding includes $100 per student who regularly attends classes, and an additional $15,000 each year. The total cost of the bill was subsequently raised from $300 million to about $1.6 billion, according to KHOU.
The proposal also requires regular safety inspections of school buildings. Should a school not comply with safety measures, the state would provide its students a grant to attend another.
Another bill that cleared the Texas House offers stipends of up to $25,000 to staff members who choose to become armed campus “sentinels” in addition to their regular duties.
The legislation overwhelmingly passed the Texas House with bipartisan support.
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Texas already allows licensed teachers to carry firearms, but the new proposal requires armed personnel must also train in identifying students who need mental health resources.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.