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School security measures head to Oklahoma governor

The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed four bills that came from the findings of the Oklahoma Commission on School Safety, which was formed as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre in Connecticut.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: April 12, 2013

Reps. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, and Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, questioned the cost of the institute.

Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, said he thought the Office of Homeland Security already has the authority to work with public schools on security issues.

“This looks purely like a political statement,” Morrissette said.

Creating the institute was authorized in Senate Bill 257, which the House passed 92-2.

The House voted 85-9 to pass SB 259, which would require school authorities to immediately report to law officers when a firearm is discovered on a student who is not a minor or an adult who isn't authorized to possess a firearm on school property. In those cases, the weapon is to be turned over to law officers.

SB 256, which would require school districts to conduct lockdown drills in addition to fire, intruder and tornado emergency bills, passed 94-1.

The House also passed SB 258, which would create a deadline of Nov. 1 by which schools and institutes of higher learning are to provide annually updated plans for protecting students, faculty and visitors from disasters and emergencies. It passed 97-0.

Lawmakers approved a clause to all four bills that would make them take effect as soon as the governor signs them.

“With the passage of these four measures, it is my hope that we're doing right by our children to ensure they have a safe and secure environment in which to learn and grow,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton. “It is vital to protect our children properly, and I believe these bills will improve the safety environment of our schools.”

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said: “Newtown was a sobering reminder to us all — we cannot prevent every unspeakable and horrific act in this world. What we can do is be proactive and forward-thinking.”