News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Texas House And Senate Leaders Take Early Steps To Consider Gov. Greg Abbott's School Safety Plan

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune
House Speaker Joe Straus (left) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Two days after Gov. Greg Abbott released a 40-page school safety plan, Texas House and Senate leaders ordered their committees to study ways to limit shootings and increase protections in Texas public schools before students return in August.

After a Santa Fe High School student went on a shooting rampage last month, Abbott released a list of suggestions for preventing future massacres. Some are possible with immediate funding; others need future state legislation. Outgoing Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both Republicans, asked lawmakers in their respective chambers to study many of the suggestions in the governor’s plan.

Straus tasked several committees with seven charges, including reviewing schools' emergency operations plans and targeting mental health strategies for children.

He also pushed more charges focused on gun regulation than the Senate's, asking lawmakers to look at ways to ensure safe firearm storage, “including enhancing the penalty to a felony when unauthorized access results in death or bodily injury.”

"The Texas House will be prepared to act promptly and decisively to improve school safety," Straus said in a press release.

Patrick asked a Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security to look into the benefits of “red flag” laws, which allow for the temporary removal of firearms from someone who poses an immediate danger. The committee will also study putting armed teachers and police officers in schools, identifying students who are at high-risk of causing violence and changing the design of Texas schools to be less susceptible to mass shootings.

Patrick said he knows the senators are "ready to get to work on this critically important task immediately.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

Aliyya Swaby started as the public education reporter in October 2016. She came to the Tribune from the hyperlocal nonprofit New Haven Independent, where she covered education, zoning and transit for two years. After graduating from Yale University in 2013, she spent a year freelance reporting in Panama on social issues affecting black Panamanian communities. A native New Yorker, Aliyya misses public transportation but is thrilled by the lack of snow.