Kortz testifies before Judiciary Committee about school safety bills

HARRISBURG, April 10 – In testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on gun safety, Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, talked about how his H.B. 2150 and a companion funding bill would bolster school safety by ensuring that school buildings throughout the state are better protected in the event of a shooting incident.

“In today’s society, our children are becoming targets, and it’s not acceptable,” Kortz said. “There are so many ways in which we can make schools ‘hard’ targets to better protect our children. Even something as simple as having magnetic locks on classroom doors would go a long way toward protecting students by preventing an assailant from entering. My bills would enable schools to go forward with implementing these much-needed protections.”

Kortz’s bill would increase funding for the Safe Schools Targeted Grants program by $30 million – to a total of about $38.5 million – to enable schools to implement security measures such as trained school resource officers and equipment such as stronger doors, metal detectors, magnetic locks and other infrastructure protections. This proposal would include incremental increases with an eventual cap of $50 million, and would allow school entities to apply for the grant annually rather than biennially.

“We need to be proactive and secure our schools now to ensure the safety of children,” Kortz said. “We owe it to our students, faculty and staff, who need to feel secure in their schools’ ability to protect them from harm. I’m encouraging all of my colleagues to support this legislation so we can take the lead in protecting our children and get these measures underway now.”

Kortz’s companion bill — H.B. 2149 — would fund H.B. 2150 by increasing the personal income tax rate by 0.007 percent, taking the current rate from 3.07 percent to 3.077 percent. The increase, which is expected to raise approximately $30 million annually, would go directly toward the Safe Schools Targeted Grants program.

“The increase would be basically pennies per paycheck to protect our children and would impact only working people, not retirees or children,” Kortz said. “Considering what’s at stake, this is an investment we must make.”