School safety issues addressed

Throughout the year, the Ohio House has been working on measures to keep our state’s schools safe for students, teachers and faculty. This is a great example of an issue where everyone involved has the same intentions and goals at heart, but might not always agree on the best way of achieving them.

There are a couple bills that include ideas I really like, and I’d like to share that information with you. As always, I want to hear your thoughts and ideas. The first school safety bill introduced this year is House Bill 8, which makes it possible for school districts to work with local law enforcement on crafting safety plans and enhanced safety training. It would require the Attorney General to create a model curriculum for training employees who are designated as the concealed carry holders in the school.

One action that school boards can already take is to designate certain school personnel to have a concealed carry inside the building during school hours. This bill does not change that, nor does it in any way require schools to take that action. That is, and should remain, up to the school boards to decide. House Bill 8 provides immunity from liability for individuals who take action to stop shooters in schools. During such a scenario-which we all of course hope and pray never happens-people who choose to give of themselves to save others should not have to worry about any criminal liability.

Another bill has similar components and goals, but takes a different approach. House Bill 215 would make it possible for off-duty or retired law enforcement officers to volunteer in schools. As the bill is currently written, officers would be permitted to volunteer up to 250 hours a year, or about nine hours a week. For volunteering, they would be eligible for a $500 tax credit.

HB 215 recently passed out of committee by a 17-2 vote, meaning that both Republicans and Democrats expressed support. I am confident that this bill, and others, will continue to be a priority in the House in upcoming months.

During this month, we celebrate Thanksgiving, in which we express gratitude for all the blessings we have in our lives. We are grateful for our families and friends, and always want what is best for them. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as your voice in the state capital and appreciate your feedback as we continue looking for ways to make Ohio’s schools safe for everyone concerned.

Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing Rep95@ohiohouse.gov, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.