Standing ovation for school safety bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Senate approved a comprehensive school safety bill, but supporters acknowledge it is only the first step.

Friday's vote came a little more than a year after two students were killed in the Jan. 23, 2018, shooting at Marshall County High School.

"We want this bill to be there to help communities that they never have to experience that again," said Republican Sen. Max Wise, the bill's sponsor, on the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 1 calls for hiring a state school safety marshal and placing more school resource officers and guidance counselors in schools.

It also sets standards for safety training and school building security.

"I can't say that this bill will be preventive, that it will stop acts of evil from occurring," Wise told his colleagues during the floor debate. "But we think we've taken the right steps."

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican who represents Marshall County, called the bill a significant first step but added it is not the solution to school violence.

"The solution to this lies in the hearts of men and women, children across this state," Carroll said.

During the more than hour-long debate, some lawmakers did raise concerns.

Sen.  Julian Carroll, a Democrat from Frankfort, said the bill does not address one key question.

"What do we do about guns in the hands of students?" Carroll asked. "That’s one small but absolutely critical issue."

Lawmakers also acknowledged that the bill means little unless they provide funding in the state budget next year.

"We want all children, regardless of the cost that we have to pay, to leave the house in the morning and come home at night," said Sen. Reggie Thomas, a Lexington Democrat.

In the end, there was a standing ovation as the bill received bipartisan support, and passed 35-0.

Sen. Danny Carroll told WDRB News the vote sends a strong message to Marshall County.

"The lives taken that day, the lives impacted that day, the families impacted, that was not all in vain," Carroll said. "That there are changes being made in this state."

There may be some tweaks, but the bill is expected to pass the House and be signed by Gov. Matt Bevin. Then next year comes the hard part: paying for it.

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Reporter

I cover a range of stories for WDRB, but really enjoy tracking what's going on at our State Capitol. I grew up on military bases all over the world, but am a Kentuckian at heart. I'm an EKU alum, and have lived in Louisville for 30 years.