The Senate Education Committee Thursday voted 6-0 to advance Senate Bill 14-002, a measure that would make the private non-profit Safe2Tell program a part of the attorney general’s office and give it some $277,000 in state funding.

Senate committee hearing witnesses
John Michael Keyes (left) listens to Tom Mauser (blue shirt) testify at a Senate hearing Jan. 23 on school safety. Both lost children in school shootings.

Safe2Tell operates a service that allows teenagers – or anyone – to anonymously report possible school violence threats, bullying, suicide threats and other problems. Reports can be made by phone, online and – in some school distrcits – by text messages.

The program has run into difficulty maintaining its operations with private and school district donations, so making it part of state government “helps preserve the longevity and vision of the original program,” Senate President Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, told the committee. “It’s amazing they’ve gone as long as they have” with private funding, she added.

The bill has gained a relatively high profile because of the Dec. 13, 2013, fatal shooting incident at Arapahoe High School, with lawmakers of both parties eager to be seen as advocates of school safety. Carroll and Minority Leader Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, are cosponsors. Frequently tart-tongued antagonists on the Senate floor, Carroll and Cadman acted like best friends as they sat together and presented the bill to the committee.

Among witnesses supporting the bill were John Michael Keyes and Tom Mauser, both familiar figures at legislative hearings on school safety issues. Keyes lost his daughter, Emily, in the 2006 shooting at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey. Mauser’s son Daniel died in the 1999 Columbine tragedy.

Get more information on the bill in this legislative staff analysis.