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Assembly passes bill that includes Lake Country School District proposal for armed officers in schools

NOW: Assembly passes bill that includes Lake Country School District proposal for armed officers in schools

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The Lake Country Superintendent says he worked with lawmakers for months on a potential bill to help schools pay for armed officers.

"The complacency in the country -- every time there's a shooting, two weeks later we're onto something else," said Superintendent Mark Lichte, Lake Country School District.

Lichte worked with his local representatives, Cindi Duchow and Joel Kleefisch.

Kleefisch says he and Mark Lichte spoke about the bill for nearly half a year, but the school shooting in Parkland, Florida was a catalyst. Kleefisch says Lichte called him Sunday night, saying he's losing sleep over what happened in Parkland, and that Lichte wanted to do something about it. Lichte drove to Madison on Monday to construct a bill and an amendment. The amendment was accepted on the floor today.

Lake Country School District does not have a school resource officer. Currently, the Delafield Police make rounds at the school weekly, but Lichte wants something more permanent.

"To have off-duty or retired police officers here 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, walking the halls, greeting parents... just a presence and a deterrent," said Lichte. He says retired police officers have already contacted him interested in a position.

Republican Speaker Robin Vos said he didn't believe the body would pass anything before the chamber's two-year session ends. Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel says he is open to allowing teachers and others to be armed in schools.

Minutes after floor debate began Tuesday, Democrats moved to place a bill mandating universal background checks on the day's agenda. In a surprise move, Republicans agreed. They then amended the bill to remove any mention of background checks and instead create a grant program to pay armed guards in schools. Democrats countered with another amendment restoring background checks.

Ultimately, the state Assembly passed the Republican bill creating a grant program to help schools pay for armed guards. Under the bill, school districts could receive grants from the state Justice Department for three consecutive years to pay armed security officers in schools with grades 5-12. The grants would cover 75 percent of the cost the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the first year. The bill doesn't specify how large the grants would be or where DOJ would get the money.

The bill also would make purchasing a gun for someone prohibited from possessing one a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Repeat firearm violators would face a new mandatory four-year prison sentence through mid-2022. The Assembly passed the measure 71-24 on Tuesday. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

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