Chad Campbell, House Democrat, Releases Plan for Schools, Guns, and Mentally Ill

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To the credit of the Arizona House Minority Leader, Democrat Chad Campbell, he unveiled a pretty wide-ranging plan to change laws related to school safety, mental health, and guns.

Unfortunately for Campbell, he's in the blood-red legislature in Arizona, so let's just say it's the thought that counts.

Campbell laid out some of the details for his plan yesterday, which has a proposed price-tag of $261 million.

School-safety programs account for $100 million of that, which includes the funding to place police officers inside schools, more counselors in schools, and grant money for school security. The other $161 million goes toward funding of state mental-health services and coverage.

He's also proposing a few changes to gun laws, a few of which deal with background-check requirements.

This isn't all one gigantic bill Campbell's proposing, but rather a series. It doesn't look like he's submitted any of these bills (it's still very early for that), so we'll have to rely on the explanation of each piece provided by the Arizona House Democrats, which you can read below. As always, feel free to leave rants and ramblings on the subject in the comments field:

Make school sites safer ($100 million cost):

1) Triple the funding for the existing School Safety Program that funds on-campus School Resource Officers (SROs). Currently, this program receives about $8 million in funding. Under my proposal, it would receive $25 million annually (a $17 million increase), to allow more SROs to be placed on school sites.

2) Create infrastructure within the Arizona Department of Education's School Safety and Prevention Unit to coordinate statewide trainings and provide technical assistance to district, charter and private schools for emergency response planning and threat assessment. My plan would allocate $1 million annually for this work.

3) Require each school district and all charter schools to conduct and update regularly a regular comprehensive threat assessment (if they haven't already done so) and identify what is needed to provide adequate security at each of their school sites.

4) Establish a school safety fund of $20 million that will provide competitive grant money to enhance school security measures and equipment based on the needs identified in the school site threat assessment and emergency response plan and training.

5) Double the number of school counselors to help ensure there are more mental health professionals in the school setting to help identify children who may need services and intervention. The total approximate cost of my proposal is $62 million and this amount will be phased in over 3 years to allow adequate implementation time.

Address the needs of the mentally ill ($161 million cost):

1) Fully fund Non-Title XIX services for the Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI) at the 2009 levels at a cost of $23 million. This will ensure all services previously provided under the Arnold v. Sarn lawsuit settlement will again be made available to all who are eligible. In addition to restoring funding to the SMI population, my proposal will also reform the system to incorporate incentives for providers to produce positive outcomes - such as stability in housing, employment/education, and lower involvement in crime and the criminal justice system - for the clients they serve.

2) Fully expand Medicaid coverage to individuals with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This will ensure access to mental health services for all individuals in this population through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The estimated cost for the first year of this coverage is $138 million.

Ensure gun ownership is safe ($0 cost):

1) Close the "gun show" loophole by requiring sales and transfers to take place through a federally licensed firearms dealer to ensure all background checks and other requirements are met. Failure to comply with the requirement to use a licensed firearm dealer for the transaction would be a criminal offense.

2) Require that person-to-person sales, loans and transfers of any firearms defined as "assault weapons" be processed by a licensed dealer to ensure a background check and other requirements that would be imposed if the purchase were made from a dealer are met. Failure to comply with the requirement to use a licensed firearm dealer for the transaction would be a criminal offense. For providing this service to private parties, licensed dealers will be permitted to charge no more than $50 (in addition to any government-imposed background check or other required fees). Weapons passed down to family members as family heirlooms and keepsakes would be exempt from this requirement.

3) Reinstate the training and other requirements that were in place previous to 2010 related to receiving a permit to carry a concealed firearm (CCW permit). Failure to comply with these requirements would be a criminal offense.

4) Limit access to firearms for those individuals who are a risk to themselves or others. Arizona law currently prohibits possession of a firearm by any person who has been found to constitute a danger to him/herself or others pursuant to court order, but the definition of "prohibited possessor" must be extended to include those who have been voluntarily committed and/or assessed as a threat to themselves or others by law enforcement. In addition, persons who have an order of protection issued against them, which has been issued after a full judicial proceeding where both parties were present, would be prohibited possessors under my proposal.

5) Ensure that local governments can adopt ordinances to allow for the disposal of guns they obtain through seizure, forfeiture or abandonment, including through firearm "buy back" programs.

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