Capitol Update: Holscher says quick hearing on bill related to arming teachers is out of the norm

Rep. Cindy Holscher.

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Cindy Holscher, Rep. Jan Kessinger, Sen. Pat Pettey and Sen. Barbara Bollier are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Holscher’s filing:

On Saturday, Theis Park in Kansas City hosted an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 individuals calling for common sense gun legislation. Students from local high schools in Johnson County and other surrounding areas impressed the crowd with their passionate pleas to make substantive change.

At about the same time, many Kansans were learning about HB 2789 and SB 454, apparently identical bills introduced in the Legislature late in the past week. Dubbed the SAFER Act, the bill would set up a process where local school boards could choose to arm teachers; those that choose not to do so would be found negligent if there was an incident.

The bill has already been scheduled for a hearing in the House Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Now if you’ve ever watched the legislature very closely, you know it is not typical for anything to move quickly through the process. It is likely that those who formed and support this legislation were working to move it swiftly, hoping constituents and the general public wouldn’t notice it.

Fortunately, we have a number of reporters, groups and individuals who keep a close eye on activities in the Capitol. And so far, no organizations related to schools have shown support for the SAFER act. This likely comes as no surprise to most; recent reports show that three-fourths of teachers oppose being armed.

What do they want to see? The majority indicate they want (in order of importance):
background checks, banning the sale of semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Parkland attack, and better mental health help for students. How do our students feel about arming teachers? They have made their thoughts on this pretty clear – it doesn’t make sense to them.

For those who are interested, the public is welcome to attend the hearing scheduled in the House Insurance committee Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Maybe if the committee hears from enough people, they will work on the behalf of those they serve vs. special interest groups like the NRA.