Neguse unveils legislative package focused on worker safety, mental health after mass shootings

Comes one year after 10 people killed at Boulder King Soopers
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Posted at 7:56 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 14:13:35-04

One year after 10 people were shot and killed inside of a Boulder King Soopers, Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse on Tuesday unveiled a legislative package aimed at expanding worker safety, increasing mental health and trauma support and providing preventative security measures to workplaces.

The package features four bills — the Help for Healing Communities Act, the STOP Violence Act, the Safe Workplaces Act and the Prioritizing Resources for Victims of Firearm Violence.

The Help for Healing Communities Act would create a new grant program within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAHMSA) in order to provide mental health services to those who have survived an active shooter situation or incident of targeted violence. The goal is to promote "resilience and equity" in communities that have experienced such an event, according to Neguse.

The STOP Violence Act would provide federal funding for preventative security measures at active shooter sites and public assembly facilities. Public agencies, US Attorney's offices, higher education institutions and victim services organizations are able to receive funding from the Department of Justice's anti-terrorism and emergency funding program if an act of of terrorism or mass violence occurs. Under the bill, locations of active shooter events, such as the Table Mesa King Soopers, and public assembly facilities would also be eligible for this funding.

Under the Safe Workplaces Act, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health would conduct a study on threats of violence, including gun violence, in the workplace, according to Neguse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would then develop ways employers can keep employees safe from threats of violence based on the study's findings.

The Prioritizing Resources for Victims of Firearm Violence Act would designate victims of firearm violence and their families as high priority through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which provides funding to those affected.

Reps. Veronica Escobar, Lucy McBath, Ted Deutch, Nikema Williams and André Carson are co-leading the legislation.

The package is endorsed by several entities, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Colorado Behavorial Healthcare Council and the Colorado Education Association, according to Neguse.

Neguse announces legislative package focused on worker safety, mental health support after mass shootings

Neguse unveiled the legislation Tuesday morning along district attorneys Michael Dougherty and Brian Mason, as well as union store workers and mental health organization leaders.

“It is our hope these provisions will address several concerns raised with our office,” Neguse said. “At the federal level, we are working to ensure that our community has the necessary resources to feel safe in the aftermath of this devastating incident.”

Last November, Neguse introduced the End Gun violence Act, which aims to restrict the sale of firearms to people convicted of violent misdemeanors over the last five years.

He said this latest package was “born from the deep anguish we feel at each of these tragedies and deep desire we have to ensure they don’t happen again.”

But Neguse added that the measures unveiled Tuesday were not mutually exclusive from addressing gun violence and that he would continue the push on those bills as well – calling the announcement the “beginning of the conversation, not the end.”

Dougherty and Mason both praised the bills and Neguse for his work at the federal level.

“We have to find ways in this country to address gun violence and have to find ways for our friends on both sides of the aisle to come together to address gun violence, to prevent more death,” Mason said. “That’s what these bills do, and I’m proud to support the congressman’s efforts.”

A representative for UFCW Local 7 and several grocery store workers spoke at Tuesday’s announcement, praising the workplace safety facets of the bill after seeing the shooting at the King Soopers in Boulder last year and dealing with two years of customers angry and acting aggressive over COVID-19 restrictions.

Last month, Neguse secured $275,000 in federal funding for the Boulder Strong Resource Center to support their mental health and trauma support programming.