The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on Monday approved measures aimed at bolstering security at Jewish schools, museums and houses of worship as the war between Israel and Hamas has increased safety concerns.
With the approvals, the House version (HB 7C) is slated to go to the full House on Tuesday, while the Senate version (SB 6-C) will go to the full Senate on Wednesday.
The House bill would provide $45 million, with $25 million going to improve security at Jewish day schools and preschools, while $20 million would go to a grant program that was created by the Legislature earlier this year, known as the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
The Senate bill would provide $35 million, including $25 million for Jewish day schools and preschools and $10 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
The House committee on Monday added $10 million to its proposal for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, with House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, saying at least part of the additional money could assist historically Black colleges and universities.
A Senate analysis described the program’s purpose as awarding grants “to increase security and safety for nonprofit entities at high risk for violent attacks and hate crimes and that were deemed eligible for, but did not receive,” federal security grant funding.
The money for Jewish day schools and preschools could go to purposes such as hiring and training security workers and covering costs such as security cameras, fencing, barriers and shatter-resistant glass for windows.
Multiple people, including Holocaust survivor David Schaecter, told the Senate panel that anti-Semitism is on the rise in America.
“Anti-Semitism is rampant across America right now, with the safety of Jewish students in colleges, campuses seriously strained,” Schaecter said. Sen. Lori Berman, a Boca Raton Democrat who is Jewish, thanked the other members of the panel for supporting the measure. “This is a very troubling time to be Jewish in the world right now. And I appreciate you bringing this bill,” Berman said
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