Portman Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Improve School Safety, Expand Mental Health Resources, Reduce the Threat of Gun Violence

June 23, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) released the following statement after voting for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act:

“The Safer Communities Act takes common-sense steps to improve access to mental health, protect America’s children, improve school safety, and reduce the threat of gun violence across our country while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The bill will provide additional resources to make our schools and communities safer and address mental health issues that are the root cause of many of the shootings in our country. Today’s Senate action is further proof that both parties can work together to make progress on difficult issues.”

The bipartisan legislation includes:

Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services

  • National expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.

Funding for School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services

  • More than $1 Billion to increase funding for Safe and Healthy Student Programs  
  • $50 Million to improve and expand Academic Enrichment and Youth Development
  • $500 Million to expand School-Based Mental Health Services
  • $500 Million to Increase School-Based Mental Health Professionals Pipeline

Funding for School Safety Resources

  • $200 million for STOP School Violence safety programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts, provide training to school personnel and students and provide school resource officers.

Telehealth Investments

  • Requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states on how they can increase access to health care

Penalties for Straw Purchasing

  • Cracks down on criminals who illegally traffic firearms to violent criminals, gangs, and drug trafficking organizations who present a serious threat to public safety, who are responsible for funneling illegal guns into our cities and across our southern border.

Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

  • Convicted domestic violence abusers who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature will be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), individuals will be automatically removed in 5 years so long as they do not commit an additional violence offence.

Clarification of Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer

  • Ensures gun dealers meet licensing requirements.

Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders

  • $750 Million for crisis intervention programs to states and tribes to be used for mental health courts, drug courts, veteran’s courts and extreme risk protection orders.
  • If a state chooses to use any of this funding to implement an extreme risk protection order program, they are required to meet strict and expansive due process, evidentiary, and standard of proof requirements as part of the process.

Under 21 Enhanced Review Process

  • For buyers under 21 years of age, the legislation requires an investigative period not to exceed 10 business days to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.