Colorado lawmakers look to study school violence



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DENVER (AP) — School violence and mental health would be the subject of a study for possible legislation in Colorado with a proposal that's close to reaching the governor's desk.

The House on Tuesday approved a bill that would create a committee to look at improving school safety and assessing threats. The topic is one that lawmakers and school officials have been wrestling with for almost two decades since the Columbine High School mass shooting in 1999.

A Senate vote will send the bill to Gov. John Hickenlooper.

"With the school violence that we've seen in Colorado, it's important to have an ongoing conversation to develop best practices for schools," said Rep. Crisanta Duran, the Democrats' House leader and a sponsor of the bill.

The proposal is a companion measure to a measure that would allow victims to sue schools for negligence in shootings and other violence. That bill was inspired by the death of Claire Davis, who was shot by a fellow student in 2013 at Arapahoe High School.

Lawsuits would be limited to $350,000 per victim or $900,000 per incident.

Colorado is one of at least 33 states that limit monetary damages that may be recovered from judgments against the state, though lawmakers have waived or raised the caps in particular situations.

The study committee will meet during the summer and will include eight lawmakers and six non-legislative members, including mental health professionals and experts on school violence.

Committee members will be appointed by June and what they discuss could lead to legislative proposals next year.

Duran said the study committee will complement the liability bill because legislators and school officials will examine the best methods "for the state to protect our kids across Colorado."

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Read the bill:

Senate Bill 214: http://goo.gl/u9olNb

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Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter: http://twitter.com/IvanJourno

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Ivan Moreno

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