Gov. Doug Ducey is optimistic that his school safety plan, which fell short last year after Republican lawmakers opposed a key provision, will have better luck in 2019.
Ducey said he plans to bring back his Safe Arizona Schools Plan, and that he will raise the issue in his State of the State address on Monday, when the new legislative session begins. The plan aims to counter gun violence in schools by increasing funding for mental health on campuses and for school resource officers, expanding background checks for firearms purchases and allowing former police officers to work as armed volunteer guards at schools, among other provisions.
The most controversial provision of Ducey’s plan was his proposal for Severe Threat Orders of Protection, which would allow law enforcement, relatives, school administrators, probation officers and others to ask a judge to temporarily seize a person’s a guns and force them to undergo a mental evaluation to determine whether they are a threat to themselves or others.
Many legislative Republicans and other gun rights advocates viewed the STOP provision as infringing on people’s right to bear arms, and GOP senators stripped it from the bill.
The governor said the new makeup of the Legislature following the 2018 election could help get his school safety plan across the finish line.
“Things have changed. The elections are behind us. We’ve got a fresh start and a new Legislature,” Ducey told the Arizona Mirror.
The GOP holds a 17-13 advantage over Democrats in the state Senate, and an even narrower margin in the state House of Representatives, where it holds just 31 of 60 seats, meaning they can’t afford to lose a single Republican on a party-line vote.
While Republicans criticized Ducey’s plan last year as being too stringent on gun control, Democrats opposed it as not going far enough.