Kentucky lawmakers begin work on plan to prevent school shootings
House and Senate leaders decided to form the committee after the Marshall County High School shooting back in January.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky legislature’s newly-appointed School Safety Work Group held its first meeting at the Capitol on Monday, and there is already some disagreement as to the best approach to accomplishing its mission.
House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers created the work group in the wake of the shooting at Marshall County High School in January that killed two students.
“I don’t know that we have a more pressing issue in education than that of the safety of our students and staff,” Rep. Bam Carney (R-Campbellsville) said to open the session.
Carney and Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville), who co-chair the work group, said no idea to ensure the safety of students is off the table.
“This is a huge issue that you can’t just fix by the snap of a finger,” Wise said.
Wise said the group will study best practices and issue a report, but there will be no specific legislation. Rep. Will Coursey (D-Symsonia), whose district includes Marshall County, said that is disappointing.
“I would prefer that this group got together and made recommendations for legislation in the next session,” Coursey said. “Obviously, this is what this is all about.”
But the group chairmen said since school safety is primarily a local issue, the best approach is to listen, gather research and submit a report that individual lawmakers and school districts can use.
“We would rather the individual members be able to listen to their constituencies and say, ‘Yes, we like this piece’ and go that route,'” Carney said.
The 10-member group is bipartisan and includes two lawmakers from Lexington but none from Louisville. Some said the lack of representation from the state’s largest school district is a problem.
“As Louisville-Jefferson County goes, so goes the commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Rep. George Brown (D-Lexington).
Leaders said they will fix that problem when they expand the group by adding ex officio members who are not legislators.
“The fact that there is no one from Jefferson County on there, I think, certainly wasn’t anything intentional,” Carney said. "I would certainly expect one or two of those ex officio members to be from the Jefferson County area.”
The group holds its next meeting in Frankfort on June 11 then goes on a road trip to Trigg County High School on July 9. Both will coincide with meetings of the Interim Education Committee, which will also address school safety.
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