A piece of legislation inspired by last year’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School passed out of the Texas Senate this week.
It’s the first school safety legislation to make it through one of the legislative chambers this year. It passed out of the Senate in a 29-2 vote on Monday.
State Sen. Larry Taylor‘s Senate Bill 11 would require Texas teachers and substitute teachers to be trained in how to respond to an emergency, and to have a way to quickly connect with first responders during an emergency.
Texas schools would be required to have emergency operations plans and school safety committees, and the state would offer grants to help schools pay for security upgrades.
Taylor, whose Senate district includes Santa Fe, said he filed the bill in response to the shooting, which left 10 people dead and 13 injured.
“We know that we cannot prevent every tragedy, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for strengthening school security, but SB 11 provides the framework to empower school districts to do what’s best for them and their students,” Taylor said.
Other school safety proposals in the legislature are running out of time to develop. State Rep. Greg Bonnen’s House Bill 17 contains many of the same training and preparedness proposals as Taylor’s Senate bill, but a separate proposal, House Bill 1754, which would establish a dedicated funding stream for school safety improvements, doesn’t have a matching proposal in the Senate.
The house bills have not been approved by committee votes yet, with just more than three weeks left in the legislative session.
Santa Fe Independent School District leaders have urged lawmakers to come up with a permanent funding source for school safety improvements and have said the district might be unable to continue paying for all the security upgrades made after the shooting without a funding source.
Early voting for the May 4 election ended Tuesday and, as is typical for local elections, the countywide turnout was light.
Over nine days of early voting at 15 locations, 6,849 people cast ballots, according to the election division of the Galveston County Clerk’s office. The office has received another 242 ballots through the mail.
Precinct-level data showing which local races saw the most votes cast was not readily available Wednesday afternoon.
The highest turnout elections seem likely to be a bond and sales tax vote in League City, and a re-approval vote for Seawall parking in Galveston. There are mayoral races in Hitchcock and Kemah, as well as city council, school board, college trustee and bond elections across the county.
In recent years, the total turnout for local elections has been small. Just more than 9,920 people voted in the May 2018 local elections, about 10,750 voters cast ballots in November 2017 and about 7,580 voted in May 2017, according to county records.
More than 213,000 people are registered to vote in Galveston County.
Saturday is the last opportunity for people in Galveston County to vote in their local races. A full list of local elections is available at galvnews.com and will run again, along with a list of voting locations, in Saturday’s newspaper.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
The Texas Senate’s Education Committee on Wednesday approved House Bill 3, which proposes changes to Texas’ school funding system, raises for teachers and property tax relief. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill Friday. ... The Galveston County Republican Party has a new website, galvestoncntygop.com. ... U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, announced Wednesday he would not run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2020. ... There are 25 days remaining in the Texas Legislative session.