TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Senate bill that would allow school superintendents to tap employees or volunteers to carry concealed weapons on school property was effectively killed by a committee Wednesday, meaning that two high-profile proposals blending firearms and education could fail during the legislative session.
The Senate Education PreK-12 Committee agreed to temporarily postpone -- a procedural move similar to tabling -- the "school safety" bill (SB 180). Because the committee is not scheduled to meet again, the legislation is bottled up and can't go before the full Senate. It also can't be added to another bill on the Senate floor.
The bill was postponed as a courtesy to Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Republican who sponsored the measure, according to Education PreK-12 Chairman John Legg, R-Lutz. It would have failed if the panel voted on it, Legg said.
"It did not have the votes in this committee," he said.
Technically, the language could still end up before the Senate. House lawmakers could attach the proposal to another bill, then send it over to the Senate. The upper chamber would then be free to vote on that legislation -- but Legg said he thought that move was unlikely.
"If it was (amended) onto something, it would put that bill in severe jeopardy," he said.
The House companion (HB 19) to Evers' bill has cleared all of its committees but is also essentially dead as a stand-alone bill without its Senate counterpart.
Bills that would lead to guns at schools have traditionally faced an uphill challenge in the Senate, which is more moderate on such issues than the House. With supporters saying it would improve school safety, the Evers bill called for allowing trained volunteers or employees to be able to carry guns. Those people would need to have backgrounds in the military or law enforcement.
Another controversial measure that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on the campuses of Florida colleges and universities (SB 176) also has been bottled up in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"I've polled the members of the Senate, and there doesn't seem to be too much support for that bill," committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said last week.