INDIANAPOLIS (WNDU) - The next stop for the "never again" school bus safety bill will the floor of the Indiana House of Representatives.
Four amendments were added Wednesday before the altered bill passed out of a House committee by a vote of 9-3.
(The parents of the three children killed at a bus stop last fall released a statement expressing their happiness that the bill will move on to the House floor. Their full statement has been reproduced at the bottom of this story.)
The changes targeted what one lawmaker called “the whole money thing.”
Senate Bill 2 seeks to encourage school districts to put cameras on the stop arms of their buses as a way of identifying motorists who fail to stop and as a way of forcing those violators to pay fines.
Twenty-five percent of the fines collected can be used to pay for the camera equipment, and that’s the part of the bill that was tweaked Wednesday by the senator who authored the bill.
“This amendment says an operator can go ahead and enter a third-party agreement and provide the cameras for free, but the fines could only go to pay the cost of the camera and no more. There can be no ongoing source of revenue for the schools, there can be no ongoing source of revenue for the vendor,” explained Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport.
A competing amendment was offered by Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington.
“I have another amendment which basically would say you can't do any kind of revenue sharing or use the fines as a way to pay for the cameras, because I just think that as a matter of policy for any period of time, it kind of breeds cynicism for people to know that a private company is going to be profiting from the fines, and it just creates entanglements that I think aren't good,” Pierce said.
Pierce said if the state really thinks the cameras are important for the safety of children, “we should be willing to help the system pay for that.”
The chair of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee said Pierce’s amendment went too far.
“For me, this bill is about protecting our kids and protecting your safety, and I think I share your concerns. I don’t want a school corporation to use this for profit, I don’t want a business to use this for profit. But I still want to say to our schools that might struggle to find a way to pay for the cameras for their buses, from your smallest school corporation to your largest school corporation that might have 200 or 300 buses, I don’t know that there’s a simpler way for us to make this happen.”
The debate lasted just 10 minutes. The committee vote to send the bill to the full House floor was 9-3.
Brittany and Shane Ingle, parents of the three children killed at a bus stop last fall, released the following statement about the bill passing the committee:
Shane and I are extremely pleased that today the House Committee chose to pass the Senate Bill #2 (The Maxstrong Bill) and it will now move to the full house for a vote probably next week.
We are aware and respect that there was some resistance to certain things in the bill and we hope that we can bring all sides together to come to with an agreement that will get everyone on board and we can get this important bill passed to help save children's lives. We know that the No votes are more to do with language and that all members of the committee are focused on how we can all improve children's safety, that has to be priority #1. But it's important for all legislators to remember, every NO vote means a greater risk of having more tragedy like the horrible tragedy our family is trying to come to grips with and not finding a way to bring the greatly needed change would only keep ALL children at risk across Indiana.
I would like all members of the Indiana House of Representatives to please close your eyes and imagine you children, grandchildren, niece or nephew. Remember, failure to pass this bill means that this type of horrible tragedy could happen to any of you and your families. There is no justifying NOT passing this important piece of legislation. What could possibly justify push-back? Money? Language in a bill?
We ask all those lovingly known as THE MAXSTRONG NATION as well as everyone across Indiana and the world, to help us get this bill through the final steps. Call, Write, Visit your legislators and tell them to VOTE YES that we need to pass this bill for the safety of ALL children.
We call on all members of the Indiana House of Representatives to get together and work together to bring this important piece of legislation forward and pass this bill so the Governor can sign it and make it LAW! We need to care more about the safety of ALL children than a 3rd party willing to lay out the costs of purchasing and installing school bus stop arm cameras for any schools that willing to install them on their buses. It's an extremely important part of providing evidence to hold reckless drivers accountable and send a message that you cannot blow through a school bus stop arm and harm or kill our children anymore. If you're worried about profits, as my father shared earlier, make contracts 3 years max in duration and require schools to receive a minimum of 50% of the revenues.
We know all legislators are concerned for the safety of ALL children and want to help improve school bus safety for all children, let's find a way to get to YES, not become a roadblock! It's for the good of ALL children. For those who are not at YES yet, please contact Shane, Myself or my Father and let us share just how important this bill is, let us tell you the HORROR that our family has experience. WE NEED TO PASS THIS BILL!
Similar legislation failed to passed, we can't continue to gamble with the safety of our children as we found out on October 30th last year, a willingness to gamble with the safety of children meant that you gamble with the lives of our children and we are devastated that we have lost three beautiful children. WE MUST PASS THIS BILL. Let's continue to push to pass Senate Bill #2 (The MAXSTRONG Bill) and get it passed so no families every lose another child due to reckless drivers refusing to stop for our children. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE and PROTECT OUR CHILDREN. #MAXSTRONG-BILL, #MAXSTRONG, #NEVERAGAIN #PASS-SENATE-BILL-#2
Brittany and Shane Ingle are encouraging people in support of the bill to contact the committee members who voted against the measure. They are Reps. Matt Pierce, Ragen Hatcher and Lisa Beck, all of whom can be reached at 800-382-9842