An Oklahoma legislative committee agreed Wednesday to tweak a bill that would allow public school teachers or administrators who successfully complete a special school resource officer course to bring loaded handguns to school.
House Bill 1062 now would reduce the amount of training school officials are required to receive and would require local school boards to pay for the cost, said Rep. Mark McCullough, the measure's author.
McCullough, R-Sapulpa, said he is working to get $500,000 in state funds set aside to reimburse school boards. He estimates about 250 school teachers and administrators would volunteer to apply for the training in the first year the measure is in effect.
Earlier this month, the measure passed the House of Representatives Public Safety Committee 8-3, but McCullough pulled the bill back after talking further with school and law enforcement officials. Local school boards would decide whether to let teachers and administrators apply for the course. If boards approve, the training would be voluntary for teachers and administrators.
As revised, HB 1062 would require three weeks instead of six weeks of training to complete a special reserve school resource officer course. McCullough said the course is estimated to cost about $2,500 for each teacher or administrator. He said it's possible some law enforcement agencies wouldn't charge a fee or that a private individual or group would pay the cost of the training.
HB 1062 is the first Oklahoma school security measure advanced by lawmakers since the Sandy Hook massacre in December. Twenty children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults were shot and killed by a disturbed man, Adam Lanza, in Newtown, Conn.
“It's a compromise bill trying to fill a gap where there's a need right now,” McCullough said.
Committee members passed the bill 13-1 with no debate. It now goes to the House Calendar Committee, which will decide whether it will advance to the full House.
Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, voted against the measure, questioning whether it would interfere with the work being done by the Oklahoma Commission on School Security, which is expected to hold its final meeting on Tuesday. Gov. Mary Fallin has said she would reserve judgment on proposed legislation until she has the opportunity to see what the commission, headed by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, recommends.
The panel has members from various fields, including police, school and community leaders. No lawmakers are on the commission.
“Is this not kind of a slap in the face to the lieutenant governor and that commission?” Renegar asked.
“It is our job as legislators to come up with ideas, to examine policy and to research and to move vehicles (bills),” McCullough said. “This is a vehicle. If we don't get it moving in the process, then it will not be available for use later on.”