School Panic Alarms Get Legislative Backing
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The Senate and House are poised to approve legislation that would require schools to install panic alarms for emergencies such as school shootings.
Both chambers Thursday prepared their bills for approval, making panic alarms the latest school-safety measure to emerge in the Legislature since the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The House and Senate bills are similar, but they differ in how vendors would compete for a state contract to implement a panic-alarm system for all schools to use.
Under the House bill (HB 23), vendors vying for an $8 million state contract would need to be "certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act."
The federal law is meant to encourage companies to develop anti-terrorism programs that "could save lives."
The Senate bill (SB 70) would not provide a dollar amount for the state contract, and the Florida Department of Education would be required to consult with the state-created Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state Division of Emergency Management on the contract agreements.
Thirteen of Florida's 67 school districts have already put in place panic-alarm systems, Rep. Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is helping shepherd the House bill, said Thursday.
If the House bill passes and a school's current panic-alarm system does not meet state requirements, the school would need to change its system, Latvala added.
for more features.