OR State Republicans propose ‘Safe Schools Package’ in response to deadly Nashville school shooting

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:52 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - In response to the deadly school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, TN, House Republicans proposed the “Safe Schools Package” on Tuesday.

FOX 12 sat down with House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson and House Republican Deputy Leader Shelly Boshart Davis to discuss the package; they were sitting together when the tragic news came of Nashville on Monday.

“Yesterday we were in our Caucus meeting before we would go to the House floor,” said Breese-Iverson. “We were sitting next to each other. Shelly leaned over and showed me her phone and showed me a news alert that had come across. We just looked at each other and our hearts dropped. We are moms, our kids are around the same age, and no mom wants to deal with this. No mom wants to have to live through this. We can do things to protect our kids and we knew that immediately upon seeing everything that was in front of us.”

Once they got out of the meeting, they started talking about several bills focusing on school safety.

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“We do a lot in this building,” said Boshart Davis. “We deliberate, we debate on a lot of different issues, but ultimately we know the most important things are our kids and our families. That’s why our hearts stopped for just a moment and the realization hit us because there are so many moms in this building that have kids. I think it just hits home.”

The “Safe Schools Package” is comprised of seven bills, two of which received bipartisan support:

  • House Bill 2223 – Requires the Department of Education to transfer funds to the necessary school districts to pay for school resource officers. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Lewis (R-Silverton).
  • House Bill 3354 – Directs the Department of Education to conduct a study related to hiring retired police officers to provide security in public schools. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Helfrich (R-Hood River).
  • House Bill 2704 – Requires school districts that adopt a policy limiting possession of firearms by concealed handgun licensees on school grounds to install metal detectors at entrances to building. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Scharf (R-Amity).
  • House Bill 3261 – Directs the Department of Education to conduct a study to identify sources of funding to pay for costs of establishing a secure, single point of entry for each public school. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Helfrich (R-Hood River) and Representative Stout (R-Columbia City).
  • House Bill 3350 – Directs the Department of Education to conduct a study to identify costs and possible funding sources to improve school safety. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Helfrich (R-Hood River).
  • House Bill 3584 – Directs school districts to provide electronic communication to parents and guardians of students attending the school where there is a safety threat. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Ruiz (D-Gresham) and Representative Helfrich (R-Hood River). The bill had both a public hearing and work session in the House Committee on Education.
  • House Bill 3101 – Requires schools to have at least one panic alarm in every school building. This legislation is Chief Sponsored by Representative Emerson Levy (D-Bend) and Representative Bowman (D-Tigard). This bill passed out of the House Committee on Education and has been referred to Ways and Means.

“I think the collection of everything that’s in the package, meaning all seven bills, they all have key points that are going to help keep our kids safe,” said Breese-Iverson. “Each one has a different focus, collectively that’s what keeps our kids safe. We want to be real about this conversation, we have to do the collective thinking and conversation to find out what it is that works for the schools. There are certain pieces in each one of these that reflect the things we know and as Shelly has mentioned, the things that we have heard come out of this event and other events. We know there are certain things that work to keep our kids safe and those are reflected in these bills.”

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When it comes to potentially funding these bills if they are passed, both say they would find the money in the budget.

“Budgets reflects priorities,” said Boshart Davis.

“And we are just starting to talk about budgets so what are the priorities for this state?” added Breese-Iverson. “As two moms, I think our kids are at the top of that list.”

Both say it’s about taking preventative measures and that it’s going to take having conversations across the aisle to accomplish that. They note while some bills in the “Safe Schools Package” have received bipartisan support, they say an omnibus gun package, House Bills 2005, 2006, and 2007, are fully partisan efforts

“Yesterday’s tragedy is a parent’s worst nightmare,” said Breese-Iverson. “We agree with our Democratic colleagues – student safety is critical. The legislation proposed in the Safe Schools Package, sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, must be prioritized for the safety of our students. Based on the facts we know at this time, nothing in the House Democrats Omnibus Gun Package would not have stopped this tragedy. It is our responsibility to ensure that Oregon students are as safe as State Legislators are in the Capitol. Republicans stand ready to work in a bipartisan manner, have the difficult conversations, and protect our students.”