JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill that started out as a way to allow colleges to designate campus protection officers soon turned into a vehicle to address grievances with higher education laws and policies.
Amendments added during the perfection process included opt-outs for campus health care, limitations on-campus living requirements, and legalizing concealed carry on college campus.
In its original form, HB 575, filed by Rep. Dean Dohrman, authorizes colleges and universities to designate faculty or staff members as campus protection officers.
Under the bill, any individual seeking designation as a campus protection officer must submit a certificate of completion from a campus protection officer training program approved by the Department of Public Safety.
Campus protection officers would be authorized to carry concealed firearms on the campus, if they have a valid concealed carry permit. If a person’s upgraded protection officer status is revoked, per an amendment, they would have 15 days to make an appeal to the college’s board.
A variety of amendments were added on to the bill to address specific issues lawmakers have with policies on college campuses.
“It is our money that is paying the freight for this. It is our money paying for places that seem like they are taking advantage of our kids,” said Rep. Jason Chipman.
He proposed an amendment, which was approved by the body, to limit on-campus housing requirements. Under the provision, no public institution of higher education in Missouri could require students to live in campus housing, excluding first-time freshmen during the first year of a student’s attendance.
Rep. Justin Hill’s amendment allows students who show proof of health insurance coverage to be excused from paying health care fees imposed by a public institute of higher education.
Rep. Jered Taylor’s amendment allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on campus drew the most opposition on the floor.
Supporters of the amendment argued that allowing firearms on campus would enable students and staff to defend themselves. Several lawmakers pointed to the prevalence of rape on college campuses and that if a woman had a gun, she could protect herself.
But Democrats pushed back, saying that guns are not going to solve those problems.
“If you want to stop sexual assaults, teach boys to stop assaulting women,” said Rep. Deb Lavender
The bill received initial approval and needs one more vote before heading to the Senate.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.