School bus safety bill passes unanimously, again
Indiana lawmakers were again unanimous in their support of the Never Again/MAXSTRONG school bus safety bill Monday.
The Indiana House of Representatives voted 87-0 in favor of the measure, although it was a different version than the one unanimously passed by the Senate in February.
“The goal of this bill is improve safety by sending a clear message to the public that passing a stopped school bus with a stop arm extended is completely unacceptable,” said Ind. Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Denver, from the floor of the House.
The get-tough attitude at the Statehouse was inspired by three young siblings in Fulton County who were struck by a passing car while trying to board their bus last October.
The get-tough language in the bill would make a first offense of failure to stop when a stop arm is down a misdemeanor instead of a mere traffic violation.
Such a first offense could further land a driver a license suspension of up to 90 days, although in the Senate version, the license suspension would have been mandatory.
“I think it is regrettable that we don't and didn't support cameras so it would be the foolproof identification of people who would do such a careless, reckless act,” Ind. Rep. B. Patrick Bauer added from the House floor.
One key item removed from the bill in the House was a way to make it easier to get stop arm cameras installed on buses by allowing the fines of violators to be used to pay for the equipment.
Michael Schwab, the grandfather of the child victims originally said the move served to “dirty and greatly dilute” the bill. In a more recent statement, the family said the bill “may not be perfect” but that it was a “great first step.”
The bill is likely to go to a conference committee that will try and reconcile the differences in the House and Senate versions that were passed.