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School safety bill remains on hold in Senate

The House has already approved the companion version of the bill.

A bill aiming to implement additional school safety measures (SB 7040) remains on hold after being temporarily postponed in the Senate for a second straight day.

The companion version of the legislation (HB 7065) was already approved by the full House earlier this week. It’s being sponsored by Rep. Ralph Massullo.

That bill strengthened the ability of law enforcement to press charges if an individual intentionally submits false information through FortifyFL, the state’s reporting tool.

School boards would also be required to set up a family reunification policy in the event of an emergency. And safe school officers would be required to complete mental health crisis intervention training, among other changes.

The House version also adopted a provision know as the “Kaia Rolle Act.” That portion, added via an amendment from House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee, mandates that police departments and schools set up policies regarding the arrest of children younger that 10 years old.

That provision was prompted by the arrest of 6-year-old Kaia Rolle by an Orlando police officer who was later fired over the incident after a video of the arrest went viral and sparked outrage.

But the Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Manny Diaz, remains stalled. The legislation was put forward to implement safety recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission (MSD Commission) and a grand jury impaneled by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Senate bill was scheduled for a second reading Thursday, where lawmakers would be free to ask questions of the sponsor and add amendments. But the measure was temporarily postponed after the House version adopted its changes.

Diaz did submit an amendment to his bill late Thursday, which would adopt the Kaia Rolle Act.

However, differences between the two versions would still remain. For instance, the Diaz amendment would have the Senate version explicitly cover charter schools in addition to public school districts.

But Friday, the bill was again temporarily postponed, making it unclear whether that amendment will move forward.

That doesn’t mean the bill was dead. The Senate could simply choose to adopt the House version. But that will come next week, at the earliest. The Senate adjourned briefly Friday night until 7 p.m., and is scheduled to convene again on Monday at 10 a.m.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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