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Legislature needs special session to make schools safer, senator says

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia (AP)
Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia (AP)

OLYMPIA – The Legislature should go into a special session this summer to come up with ways to make students safer before school starts in September, a high-ranking Republican senator said Friday.

In the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Texas, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, called for the state to step up the pace on efforts to fight violence in schools. The Santa Fe shooting is “yet another example of reprehensible terror in our school system,” he said.

During this year’s regular session, the Legislature considered a wide range of ideas connected to school safety and against gun violence. Braun, the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, proposed asking voters for the authority for $500 million in bonds to expand mental health services in the state.

Other proposals included age restrictions and stricter background checks on military-style semi-automatic rifles, and systems to make it easier for students to report potential threats anonymously. A bipartisan work group is holding meetings to propose legislation for 2019 by December. Braun said the group should step up the pace of its meetings and have recommendations by August, giving the Legislature time to act before school starts.

Although the Legislature could call itself into special session under the state constitution, the typical way is for the governor to call legislators back to Olympia.

Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said that decision will wait on the work group’s recommendations.

“The obstacle for reducing gun violence has not been too few days in session,” Lee said in an email. “As Sen. Braun says, there’s a work group talking about this and we look forward to reading their report.”


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