House Bill 1087, the school gunslinger bill, awaits its date with Senate State Affairs. When the committee takes up this dangerous, fear-based proposal to arm teachers, janitors, and volunteers against the miniscule threat of school shootings, we will surely hear its backers cloak their guns-everywhere agenda in their familiar "local control" talking point.
So I got to wondering: how's the Legislature doing on local control so far on other proposals?
- Senate Bill 41 shifts responsibility for school bus inspections from Highway Patrol staff to inspectors picked by the school and approved by the HP. But the Legislature still requires all schools to submit to state bus safety standards. Not much local control there. The bill awaits House approval.
- Senate Bill 119 takes away local school district's authority to restrict media access to school sports events based on exclusive broadcast contracts. I'm cool with that, but the bill sets a statewide rule, reducing local control. The Senate has approved SB 119; it awaits House action.
- Senate Bill 138 imposes new data-reporting requirements on all school districts. Senate Education passed this bill unanimously.
- Senate Bill 187 would have allowed school districts to deny teachers the due process right of continuing contract. Senate Education wisely, if narrowly, defeated SB 187 and maintained the state mandate of this basic labor protection.
- Control is really about money. More money means more ability to do what you want to do. House State Affairs has killed two bills, House Bill 1201 and House Bill 1202, that would have restored some of the policy-making dollar power the Governor and Legislature have taken away from schools in recent years.
- Senate Bill 98 would have watered down the immunization requirement to enroll in public school. Senate Health and Human Services chose sensible public health policy over John Birch paranoia and killed this bill early. The Legislature thus endorses the idea of mandating every school district to follow statewide immunization requirements to protect the health of children.
- Senate Bill 216 tells school districts they can no longer develop their own driver ducation curriculum. Instead, they must teach a standardized curriculum created by the state Department of Public Safety. The Senate loved this bill.
- On a higher level, Senate Bill 148 would have restored the state's authority to permit and regulate in-situ uranium leach mining. Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources killed this good bill, saying they would prefer that responsibility for this important environmental oversight rest solely with the federal government. That reduces the ability of local residents to influence decisions by denying them the chance to direct their concerns to closer state officials.
There you have nine bills demonstrating the Legislature's lack of any sense of commitment to local control as a guiding principle in legislation. So when backers of the school gunslinger bill say HB 1087 is all about local control, call their bluff, and ask what their real agenda is.