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Minutes for HB2008 - Committee on Transportation

Short Title

Requiring seat belts on school buses.

Minutes Content for Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Staff briefed the Committee on this bill.  The Chairman recognized Representative Swanson.

Representative Swanson spoke in support of HB2008.(Attachment 1)  She referred to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and other organizations agreeing that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt.  She stood for questions.

The next proponent was Greg Clark, Superintendent USD 112 Central Plains.(Attachment 2)  According to Superintendent Clark every bus they have ordered since 2014 has been equipped with seatbelts.  He listed some highlights in favor of the seatbelts on their buses.  He stood for questions.

April Brenner was the next proponent.(Attachment 3)  She has children who ride school buses and she asked the question, 'If it is a state law that all drivers and passengers have to wear seatbelts in their vehicles, why don't their children have to be buckled up on school buses?'

Written testimony was presented in support of HB2008 by the Kansas Highway Patrol.(Attachment 4)

Dr. Penny Hargrove, Superintendent, Hiawatha Schools, presented neutral testimony.  According to Dr. Hargrove, after researching and visiting with experts she could not find compelling information to persuade her their students would be safer seatbelted.(Attachment 5)

Mike Folks, Superintendent, USD 379 Clay County School District, also presented neutral testimony.  Superintendent Folks said his research on student safety showed that students are 70 times safer on a school bus than riding in their parent's car.  According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 500 children and teens die each year in car accidents during school hours and only about four are killed each year while riding school buses during those same hours.(Attachment 6)

The first opponent to HB2008 was Deana Williams, bus driver for USD 330, Mission Valley.  The drivers in that district prepared some observations for the Committee.(Attachment 7)  Ms Williams said they feel that seat belts are not the answer to safety concerns regarding transporting students that perhaps a better solution would be to have a para on each bus to monitor behavior and eliminate many of the distractions that drivers deal with.

The next opponent was Leah Fliter, Advocacy and Outreach Specialist for the Kansas Association of School Boards. (Attachment 8)  According to Ms. Fliter, researchers have conducted numerous studies with conflicting conclusions on the advisability of fitting school bus seats with safety harnesses.  She said KASB feels the decision to fit school buses with seat belts is the responsibility of the local boards.

Written testimony was submitted in opposition to HB2008 by the Wichita Public Schools.(Attachment 9)

After all questions were answered Chairman Proehl closed the hearing on HB2008.

The Chairman announced that the next Committee meeting will be Thursday, January 26, 2017.  We will hear HB2040 and HB2060.

There being no further business before the Committee the meeting was adjourned.