The Kentucky state Senate passed priority school safety legislation, Senate Bill 1, unanimously on Friday morning.
The legislation, sponsored by Senate Education Chair Max Wise, is the result of the work of the legislature’s School Safety Working Group, which has been meeting over the last year. Leaders from both the House and the Senate have expressed that the school safety measure is a key priority of both legislative bodies.
According to Wise, the bill’s intent is to establish safer learning environments in schools across Kentucky. Among other things, SB 1 sets a goal of adding more school resource officers and mental health professionals in schools, requires active shooter training for certain school employees, and requires that districts appoint a school safety coordinator.
The bill passed with a committee substitute making small changes including reducing the ration of one mental health professional to every 1,500 students to one to 250, as recommended by national models.
In a speech on the floor, Sen. Wise said the bill is a balanced approach to a complicated issue and is a well-intended effort to keep Kentucky students and school personnel safe based on research, data, and a strong bipartisan effort.
He added Senate Bill 1 is part one of a two-part process as the bill does not include funding for the provisions in the bill as it is outside of a budget year. Wise said the General Assembly cannot leave Frankfort at the end of this session thinking the problem has been solved with the passage of this bill and added he is completely committed to ensuring the funding is secured during the 2020 session in the crafting of the next two-year state budget.
Senate Bill 1 now moves to the House to be heard in committee. The House also has a companion school safety bill, House Bill 1, which has been heard in committee for discussion but has not yet received a vote.
Marshall County state Rep. Chris Freeland, a primary co-sponsor of the House bill, sat down with The Bottom Line on Wednesday to discuss the tragic shooting that happened in his hometown just one year ago and the legislation seeking to ensure such events never happen again. Watch the interview here.