Otter signs bill addressing school threats

(UPDATED, 11:30 a.m., with more bill signings.)

Gov. Butch Otter has signed a bill designed to clamp down on school threats.

And it’s one of several education bills on Otter’s Friday to-do list. Also on the agenda is one of the governor’s priorities, a college scholarship for adult students.

The school safety bill, House Bill 665, allows prosecutors to pursue a case involving a threat, whether it occurs on school grounds or on social media platforms. The bill also allows prosecutors to file felony charges against anyone who possesses a weapon “in the furtherance of carrying out a threat.”

Otter signed the bill during a Friday morning ceremony in his office. Reporters were not invited to the event. But the Idaho Republican Party hailed the signing on its Twitter feed Friday morning.

“This new school safety law hasn’t gotten the attention that protests have, but it will have a huge impact,” the Idaho GOP tweeted. “It gives law enforcement the ability to stop school violence before it happens, and keep students and teachers safe.”

Sponsored by Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, a retired U.S. marshal, HB 665 passed both houses overwhelmingly in the final weeks of the 2018 legislative session.

With Otter’s signature, HB 665 goes into effect immediately.

Otter was also scheduled to sign a long-awaited “adult completer” scholarship bill Friday, spokesman Jon Hanian told Idaho Education News. Senate Bill 1279 will allow the State Board of Education to free up state scholarship dollars for adults who hope to return to college and receive a degree. Otter has pushed for the scholarship for three years.

On Friday, Otter also signed House Bill 648, requiring high schools to offer elective computer science courses.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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