MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker toured three schools Monday as part of a last-minute push to convince the Republican-controlled state Legislature to break an impasse and approve his school safety proposals, which includes a $100 million grant program to pay for armed guards.
The disagreement in the Legislature over the school safety plan could doom the package of bills Walker introduced in response to school shootings across the country, including one last month in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and three staff members were killed.
Walker’s proposals don’t include tighter gun control as Democrats have urged. But he also didn’t propose arming teachers, a move some conservative lawmakers have proposed.
Instead, Walker is calling for creating a new office of school safety — under control of the attorney general — that would be in control of a $100 million grant fund. That money could go to pay for armed security guards at schools, but the amount of the three-year grants would go down from covering 75 percent of the costs in the first year to just 25 percent in the third.
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Other proposals would require mandatory reporting for threats of school violence, mandate that parents be told of a school bullying incident within 48 hours and require all schools to have a safety plan. Another bill would create an exemption in student privacy laws to provide law enforcement agencies with surveillance video if it “serves a legitimate safety interest.”
Walker’s package, which attempts to strike a middle ground between those seeking tighter gun controls and conservatives who want to arm teachers, remains in jeopardy in the Legislature.
The Senate was meeting Tuesday and planned to pass its own school safety measures, which Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said will be close to what Walker wants. The Assembly Education Committee was holding a public hearing Tuesday on Walker’s bills and was expected to meet in special session Thursday to approve them.
The Senate and Assembly must pass identical bills — in the same regular or special session — for them to go to Walker for his signature.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has insisted the Assembly will not reconvene in regular session to vote on bills the Senate passes. That puts the school safety measures, Walker’s $100 child tax rebate and a juvenile justice overhaul plan that includes closing the Lincoln Hills prison in jeopardy.
Republican Sen. Steve Nass of Whitewater said Monday he hoped Vos would “reconsider his my-way-or-the-highway approach” and bring the Assembly back in regular session to resolve those issues and others.
Vos and Fitzgerald did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Also on Monday, members of the Wisconsin Gun Safety Coalition spoke out against Walker’s proposals because of the lack of gun control measures. Groups involved include the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, the YWCA Madison, the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
Walker was joined by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Attorney General Brad Schimel on Monday as they lobbied for his school safety package at schools in Onalaska, Altoona and Marathon. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards is among those that have come out in support of the governor’s plan.
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sbauerAP