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Michigan school safety bills show stark divide between parties in state House

Michigan school safety bills show stark divide between parties in state House
Michigan school safety bills show stark divide between parties in state House 02:13

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A package of bills on school safety is the latest piece of legislation to show the divide in the Michigan House. 

It's an 11-bill package, ranging from mental health and emergency plans to tip lines like the state's OK2SAY program. The bills were introduced last year and have since been in the committee. 

Last week, Republican Minority Leader Matt Hall attempted to discharge the bills to the floor - a move Democrat state Rep. Matt Koleszar called "irresponsible."

"We're talking about the lives of children, and to rush them to the floor for political points to say 'this is taking too long' is quite frankly absurd," he said. "The best work is done in committee to get those bills ready. It's done in bipartisan fashion, which is what these bills have been done. What was done on the floor last week was essentially a political stunt."

The attempt to discharge the bills was unsuccessful, and Koleszar says they remain in committee. The bills are being worked on by the bipartisan members of the School Safety Task Force. 

"This is something bipartisan-wise that we agree on. We want school safety for our kids," Koleszar said. "So the argument was that, 'Well, they haven't moved them, so we should just vote on  them now.' But the reality is that this is an unfinished product. You don't move an unfinished product, especially when you're dealing with the lives of our children. You want to make sure you get that right."

Republican lawmakers said the move was important to get some movement on improving school safety.    

"I just want to see these bills come out on the-- come out of committee and have them be discussed because us just stalling for whatever reason doesn't help the safety of our schools for our kids," Republican state Rep. Donni Steele. 

Steele said she feels the delay wasn't about perfecting the bills.

"Rumor has it that they were written by Republicans in the majority of the Republican Party last year, and they want to make sure that they have Democrats on the face of the bills. They were bipartisan bills. It's irrelevant," she said. "Safety of our kids shouldn't be played in politics."

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