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The Latest: Senate OKs school safety bill

Updated 10:17 p.m. on March 20

UPDATE: MADISON (CBS 58) -- (AP) The Wisconsin Senate has passed Gov. Scott Walker's school safety proposal that makes $100 million in grants available.

The Senate passed the bill 28-4 on Tuesday. The Assembly was expected to sign off on Thursday.

The bill creates a new office of school safety under the state Department of Justice, which would be in charge of the grants.

Walker and bill supporters say schools can use the grant money to make security enhancements, similar to how airports tightened restrictions following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

But Democrats and other advocates say Walker and Republicans are missing the core issue of tightening gun control. They have been calling for universal background checks and reinstituting a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases.

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State leaders continued to work on a plan to give out $100 million dollars in grants for school safety Tuesday night.

As they worked on the plan to keep state students safe in the morning, the nation witnessed another deadly school shooting in Maryland.

“What happened this morning, again underscores the idea that this is not just an issue for the Wisconsin legislature,” Sen Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said.

The plan gives out $100 million dollars in grants for school safety improvements, but lawmakers had not agreed on whether some of that money should be used on armed guards by Tuesday night.

“Physical security," Fitzgerald said. "That was basically our goal.”

 "I think the next part that still has to get figured is whether it’s an armed guard, or it is someone who has law enforcement experience," Sen Van Wanggaard said. "I actually would rather see a trained law enforcement officer working part time in the school.”

The plan also creates an office of school safety and a mandatory threat reporting process.

Opponents say the grants take too long, and the legislature should simply give the schools money for safety directly.

“We know that school districts know exactly what their needs are, but we’re creating all this government red tape to allow them to go through a process to maybe get funding.” Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee said.

And many Democrats say it fails to address gun control.

“We need to make sure we have a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals," Rep. Daniel Riemer, D-Milwaukee, said. "This package is a small step in the right direction, but there’s a lot more that we’ve got to do.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s making progress on a deal with the Senate.

The Assembly would have to pass the same plan as the Senate to get it to the governor’s desk.

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