Senate Committee on Rules Passes Critical Public Safety Legislation
The Florida Senate Committee on Rules, chaired by Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers) today passed Senate Bill 7026, The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The legislation represents a comprehensive approach to addressing the issues presented by the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, including firearm and school safety, and community mental health resources.
“Just 12 days ago 17 of our fellow citizens lost their lives and 14 more of our citizens were seriously injured. The victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did nothing more than get up on an ordinary day and go to school and work the way they had done thousands of times before,” said Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), who presented Senate Bill 7026 today. “This legislation provides law enforcement, the courts, and schools with the tools necessary to enhance public and school safety and will enhance coordination between education and law enforcement entities at the state and local levels to help prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”
“Nothing we will do in the State Legislature will fill the void created in the families of the victims, their school, or their community. However, this comprehensive legislation will honor their memory by helping to ensure every community across the state has the resources needed to identify and treat those suffering from mental illness, to improve the safety and security of local schools, and to ensure those suffering from mental illness do not have access to firearms,” said Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart).
A summary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act as passed by the Senate Committee on Rules is below.
- Authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition from the person for at least 72 hours, or until the person appears at the agency to retrieve the firearm or ammunition.
- Prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution from owning or possessing a firearm until a court orders otherwise.
- Creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms when a person poses a significant danger to himself or herself or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior.
- Provides a court can issue a risk protection order for up to 12 months.
- Requires the surrender of all firearms and ammunition if a risk protection order is issued.
- Provides a process for a risk protection order to be vacated or extended.
- Codifies the Multiagency Service Network for Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SEDNET) as a function of the DOE in partnership with other state, regional, and local entities to facilitate collaboration and communication between the specified entities.
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation to provide supplemental funding to assist school districts and charter schools in establishing or expanding comprehensive mental health programs, and to connect students and families with appropriate services.
- Requires a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns, or until the background check is completed, whichever is later. Provides exceptions for:
- Concealed weapons permit holders, and
- For firearms other than handguns, an exception for individuals who have completed a 16 hour hunter safety course.
- Prohibits a person under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm, and a licensed firearm dealers, importers, and manufacturers, from selling a firearm, except in the case of a member of the military, or a law enforcement or correctional officer.
- Prohibits a bump-fire stock from being imported, transferred, distributed, transported, sold, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, or giving away within the state.
- Establishes the Commission on School Safety and Security within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass shooting events, and develop recommendations for system improvements.
- Codifies the Office of Safe Schools (office) within the Florida Department of Education (DOE), and specifies purpose for the office is to serve as the state education agency’s primary coordinating division for promoting and supporting safe-learning environments.
- Creates the Florida Sheriff’s Marshal Program within the DOE as a voluntary program to assist school districts and public schools in enhancing the safety and security of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to Florida’s public schools and campuses.
- Establishes the Public School Emergency Response Learning System Program to assist school personnel in preparing for and responding to active emergency situations, and to implement local notification systems for all Florida public schools.
- Requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility, and:
- Requires each district school board to designate a district school safety specialist to serve as the district’s primary point of public contact for public school safety functions.
- Requires each school district to designate school safety specialists and a threat assessment team at each school, and requires the team to operate under the district school safety specialist’s direction.
- Clarifies the applicability of public records exemptions for security systems and plans to give confidence that video footage that could reveal the location and capabilities of security cameras is exempt from public records.