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School safety signals 

Jindal Announces 'Study Group'

  Lawmakers announced late last month that the state Homeland Security Committee would hold a Jan. 9 meeting to see if there were new security measures that could be added in Louisiana to head off a school shooting like the one in Newtown, Conn. The meeting was canceled the day after the announcement.

  Legislative leaders said there were scheduling conflicts with some of the invited guests. Within a week's time, however, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration announced its own "study group" to recommend safety measures for schools and colleges. The legislative committee hearing was then rescheduled for Jan. 17.

  Shortly after the meeting was rescheduled — but before it happened — Jindal announced he would seek legislation in the coming session to improve gun safety in Louisiana by enabling the state to report an individual's eligibility to purchase firearms based on mental health records to the federally administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System database.

  When the lege committee finally met last week, committee members heard from top law enforcement and education officials who all agreed that current plans in place at schools should be strengthened, and coordination between involved parties and first responders should be enhanced. Ideas included legislation requiring shooting drills at schools and establishing a centralized hub for school safety activities within the Governor's Office on Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Officials also expressed an interest in working with Jindal's task force to come up with recommendations for the next legislative session, which begins April 8, but no follow-up meeting has been scheduled.

  Capitol observers say the committee's actions, and Jindal's timing, are further evidence of how much the Legislature dances to the governor's tune and defers to him in matters large and small.

— Jeremy Alford

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