Students First Safety Act

Students First Safety Act (HF 2586) represents a two-year effort by IFC, to address school safety in a meaningful way.  However, it has been difficult.  After days of struggle in the House, Representative Matt Windschitl gave an impassioned, and direct, speech in favor of the bill to the House. Getting the bill to the floor of the House for a vote, and then getting the votes to pass the bill to the Senate, took a lot of effort. Iowa Firearms Coalition greatly appreciates those legislators who have steadfastly worked on behalf of student safety.

The bill is now in the Senate. The Senate Education subcommittee, to which it was assigned, voted to calendar it in the Senate.

Below is the text of the recent email communication by Representative Windschitl to his constituents about HF 2586, and other bills focused on making schools safer.


Representative Windschitl’s Message to Constituents


One of the main themes House Republicans have been working on this session is school safety and security for our students and staff in educational settings. We have brought forth numerous proposals surrounding this topic and will continue working on multiple ways to accomplish this goal.

One of the bills we have advanced to the Senate for consideration allows schools flexibility to protect students by arming staff. For a staff member to qualify for this responsibility, they must undergo specific training regarding active shooters and emergency response strategy, and they must obtain a professional permit to carry that requires elevated firearm training. The training laid out in the bill is extensive and rigorous. Keep in mind this would be on a voluntary basis for schools and staff to choose if they want to use this option. No one will be forced to undergo training if they do not want to have the responsibility, and no school is required to arm staff.

Another proposal we have put forth deals with school infrastructure and creates grants for schools to utilize technology to equip schools and detect bad actors with harmful intentions. This bill creates a task force to develop school safety building codes to determine what makes school buildings safer. Currently none exist.  With new standards, school officials will be able to make sure they are doing what they can from an infrastructure standpoint to make buildings safe for students and teachers. Along that same line, the bill prevents districts from bonding to build athletic stadiums or facilities unless and until their facilities are up to date with the school safety building standards from the task force.  Safety and security should be the priority.

This bill also deals with how schools can get help or send for help if an emergency arises. Schools are allowed to have a mobile panic alert system if it can connect to emergency services and integrates with local public safety answering points. This is a mobile phone application districts can utilize. The Governor’s office previously developed a grant program for emergency radios. Many schools took advantage of that grant, but some did not.  The Governor’s office has said that they plan to re-open that grant program to make sure all schools can have access to funding for the radios. If schools do not take advantage, they will be required to use their own funds.

This bill establishes two grant programs. The first is a three-million-dollar Firearm Detection Software grant program run by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The grant program provides funds to school districts of varying sizes to help offset the cost associated with purchasing, installing, operating software that meets these requirements:

  • Designed to alert and detect district employees and first responders if there is a visible, unholstered firearm on a property owned by the school district.
  • Designed to integrate with a district’s existing security camera infrastructure.
  • Was developed in the U.S. without any of third-party data or open-source data.

The second grant program is the School Security Personnel Grants for Infrastructure, Equipment, and Training. This grant program states that if the bill is passed, it will provide school districts grants to purchase infrastructure and equipment related to employee permits to carry weapons, facilitate the training associated with employee permits to carry weapons, and to provide stipends to employees who participate in the training associated with employee permits to carry weapons. Districts who choose to enhance school security this way will have additional expenses and House Republicans want to help cover those costs to truly make schools a safer place for students and staff.

Regardless of the outcome of the Students First Safety Act in the Senate, all IFC members — indeed, all Iowans — owe Representative Windschitl their thanks for his fervent and steadfast support, as well as thanks to others who voted in favor of advancing the bill to the Senate.

If you are not a member of IFC, please join HERE and volunteer.  We have many opportunities to get involved.

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