Alabama lawmakers to hold school safety hearing following Newtown tragedy

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Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, House Speaker Mike Hubbard announced a joint legislative hearing next month to discuss school security and safety.

“Our goal is to complete a comprehensive review of the issue and learn what we can do as a legislature to ensure public schools across Alabama are as safe, secure and protected as possible,” Hubbard said in a statement.

The meeting, scheduled for January 9, will be held by the House and Senate Education policy committees.  Time and location has not been set.

Hubbard’s release said the committees would hear from stakeholders, including the Alabama Department of Education and law enforcement groups.  The statement also said the committees would look for good district practices that could be implemented statewide.

Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, the chairman of the Senate Education committee, said in an interview Thursday morning he wanted to focus on getting mental health resources to children who need help.

“I don’t think there are any laws we can pass that will do anything about the evil in people’s hearts,” Brewbaker said.  “I do think there are things we can do to ID children who have problems.”

The senator said he did not know of specific approaches, and whether those would require new laws or added funding.  The state’s Department of Mental Health is slated to receive $104.7 million from the state General Fund  in the current fiscal year.  In fiscal year 2008, the department received approximately $143 million.

Brewbaker said he did not expect action on gun control measure, which he felt would be ineffective.  Brewbaker also said he was “not in favor” of measures to arm teachers.

– posted by Brian Lyman

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