Eds: Updates with background and comments. This week's Capital Focus and a Michigan AP Centerpiece.
DETROIT (AP) — Supporters of a statewide student safety hotline patterned after one established in Colorado in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre hope to clear a final hurdle once schools are back in session.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed a budget bill this month that includes money to develop and run the OK-2-SAY hotline, which would provide for anonymous reporting of threats and violence. The green light for launch is legislative approval, and that's halfway home: The Senate unanimously passed the enabling bill and it awaits consideration by the House after members return for voting in late August.
"We're very optimistic that the House will approve it. There's no hard deadline but the sooner ... the better," said Joy Yearout, who is the spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette and whose office would oversee the program with the Michigan State Police. "We're ready to work with them and move it as soon as possible."
House leaders aren't voicing concerns, but it's not clear how fast the proposal will move. House Speaker Jase Bolger's spokesman Ari Adler said the GOP leadership is reviewing the idea and the legislation "but no decision has been made yet on whether it will move through the House or when that might happen."
Joanne Spry is optimistic the wait won't be too long. The superintendent of Cadillac Area Public Schools, who participated in Colorado's Safe2Tell program several years ago while working there as a high school principal in Woodland Park, brought the director of that program to Michigan to meet with legislators, law enforcement officials and others. The reaction, she said, was overwhelmingly positive, which led the northwestern Lower Michigan district to scrap its plans to work directly with the Colorado program and wait for Michigan's to get up and running.