After a lengthy and emotional debate, the Florida Senate narrowly approved a bill to put millions of dollars of state money into school security programs in response to the Parkland shooting, attempting to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while arming school officials with a first-in-the-nation optional program for school districts. The measure now moves to the House.
Most also recognize the importance of this moment. Although some have talked about this as a "starting point" there is a fear of losing the momentum behind this debate now (which is what happened with sexual harassment). Congress hasn't acted. And Parkland parents are in balcony.
Theme of this somber debate: Nearly every member has something they don't like about this bill. Rs nervous about gun restrictions, Ds about arming school staff. It's a question of if they are willing to accept the package. But Rep. Bob Cortes summed it up: "We must do better."
Rep. Hardemon said of all the amendments proposed by Black Caucus yesterday, none of which were approved: "I take offense to all that happened yesterday because my voice was never heard. ... we never have an understanding that black folks in FL are dying every day."
Rep. Plasencia, R-Orlando said he met with 50 districts and 30 want this program. "You don't have to agree with the guardian program because it's optional. But who are we to stand in the way" of districts that want to use it
Rep. @Shawnfor63 (R-Tampa): Said he wanted to take out the armed staff program "I felt it was the right thing to do for my constituents back home." But he is still voting yes today. "Today there is no privilege in governance there is only obligation in governance."
Rep. Porter (R-Lake City): Said she'll vote yes but raising age to 21 is "cherry-picking" the age at which someone is an adult. When you're 18 you can go to war and you can vote, but now you can't buy a gun or drink.
Rep. Ausley (D-Tallahassee): "The measures we take toward responsible gun control today are reasonable but they are not enough. … Why can’t we talk about restrictions on high-capacity magazines?” Says this is her hardest vote in her entire time in the House.
Rep. Massullo (R-Lecanto): He doesn't like raising the gun purchasing age to 21 but is proud of the compromise at hand. "We have opportunity to do something today that hasn't been done in this country before."
Timely & important: "Cases like these are extremely rare ... Still, opponents of the proposal say allowing thousands more guns inside schools would drastically increase the likelihood of something going wrong. “These ppl are so stressed & we’re gonna put a gun in their hand." twitter.com/kmcgrory/statu…
Rep. Stark (D-Weston): "I've been watching this for 20 years and the needle keeps moving more and more pro-gun." But even though the gun restrictions too weak, he would vote for it if not for the guardian/marshal program, which "defeats the whole purpose."
Rep. @ChrisLatvala : "I understand the angst about the guardian program but I can't help but think about the coaches who literally ran in as shields to protect their students ... while guys with guns were standing outside."
.@JaredEMoskowitz : "I have begged, I have pleaded, I have clawed, I have sold shit I never thought I would" to get this out of bill. He graduated with Aaron Feis fr MSD, said he saw the trail of blood where Feis had died in Parkland. This program named after him.
OK, after long debate they're finally about to vote on the first proposed amendment, a big one fr @JaredEMoskowitz who represents Parkland. Wants to take out entire program to arm school staff. Says "if this was a secret ballot this program would be out of the bill."
Debate getting heated already. @kionnemcghee keeps asking about armed staff program, implying a school guardian could carry an AR-15. Oliva says that would defeat purpose of anonymity but that's not what he wants to hear because McGhee's goal is only "political theater."
.@kionnemcghee asks and Oliva confirms that there is a loophole for 18-21 possessing an "assault weapon" like an AR-15. Under the bill, they only cannot purchase. But it could be legally gifted, for example.
$67 million for guardian/marshal program is "an estimation at this point," Oliva says. Law enforcement has raised concerns that it's way too much money for a voluntary program many districts won't use while other areas underfunded: tampabay.com/florida-politi…
.@RepJoseOliva : assures Jones that armed staff is "only activated in the event of an active assailant on campus." Says that they can't use firearm for any other reason. Jones concerned about Stand Your Ground.
Data shows that black students are given a disproportionate amount of suspensions/other discipline. Black Caucus has raised similar concerns about arming teachers/staff and how that could lead to minority students getting shot.
Now, @ShevrinJones raising concerns in House that "black and brown students" could be "wrongfully pointed out" or "flagged" as part of new training for teachers to flag students who have behavioral issues and may need to be directed to mental health services.
The Senate also changed the program to exclude those who "exclusively perform classroom duties," shifting from arming teachers to school staff like coaches, admin. Likely a move to get @FLGovScott on board.
Yesterday, the Senate changed the name of the controversial 'marshal' program to arm school staff to the "Aaron Feis Guardian Program," named after #Parkland coach who was killed. Galvano said he got the approval of Feis's family.
The #SB7026 debate is starting in the House. Right now there have been more than 90 amendments filed, mostly by Dems. Those are unlikely to pass but this will be an opportunity to figure out the details of this big gun/school safety bill, which have gotten lost in fast pace.
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