House lawmakers have changed a school bus safety bill to eliminate a way for schools to pay for cameras on school bus stop arms.
The legislation comes as a result of an incident that killed three Rochester, Indiana schoolchildren last year.
The bill initially allowed schools to contract with private companies to install cameras on school bus stop arms, which could catch drivers illegally passing the buses. The schools could then pay for the cameras with the fines those drivers pay.
A House floor amendment eliminates that option, a change Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) applauds.
“I have a very strong, philosophical opposition to revenue sharing with private companies out of criminal penalties or criminal fines," Pierce says. "I think that really breeds cynicism about the government.”
But Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) says the legislature is hanging schools out to dry.
“I think we have a duty to have a statewide mechanism for protecting all of our children that doesn’t depend upon the peculiar interests or financing structure of each of our 290 school districts,” DeLaney says.
The amendment also scales back the criminal penalties for drivers who illegally pass school buses. The bill originally said a driver’s license must be suspended for 90 days. Now, that’s optional.
The measure will be up for passage in the House as early as Monday.