(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) continues to fight for additional funding that will improve school bus safety in districts across Tennessee.
In February, Representative Lynn met with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to discuss gaining his support of the bill to protect students who rely on the bus to travel to and from school. As a result, the Governor announced that he has set aside $3 million in nonrecurring funds for grants in the amendment to his fiscal year 2018-2019 budget. These grants will help school districts address the extra costs associated with purchasing buses equipped with seat belts.
Additionally, Representative Lynn is sponsoring House Bill 395. It requires that any bus purchased on or after July 1, 2018, that is owned, operated, or leased by a public or private elementary or secondary school system to be used to transport students to and from schools or school-related events must be equipped with a restraint system. Additionally, these restraint systems must be approved by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for both the driver and all passengers.
Last year, Representative Lynn traveled to Indiana to research the pros and cons of restraint systems on school buses. She observed a side-impact crash involving a semi traveling 35 miles an hour and a school bus transporting crash test dummies. In this scenario, crash test dummies were both belted and unbelted. For those unbelted, the crash proved to be fatal. Those that were belted in remained safely restrained.
Representative Lynn has prioritized the safety and well-being of students who depend on school buses as part of their daily transportation.
“Every day, we count on our buses and drivers to get our children to school and back safely, and I am grateful that Governor Haslam has allocated additional funding as part of his budget amendment that will help us better protect our kids,” said Representative Lynn. “He will forever be remembered as the Governor who improved school bus safety, and I am honored to have worked with him in an effort to begin addressing this paramount issue.”
During the 2017 legislative session, Representative Lynn supported passage of House Bill 322. The measure requires all school districts, as well as charter schools to appoint a transportation supervisor to monitor and oversee student transportation. This supervisor must receive annual training developed from both the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and the Tennessee Department of Safety (TDS) and must also implement a school transportation policy adopted by the local board of education.
Additionally, House Bill 322 requires all new bus drivers to complete a driver training program based on standards developed by the TDOE and the TDS prior to transporting any students. This bill also increases the minimum age for individuals seeking to obtain a school bus operator endorsement license from 21 to 25.
Those in opposition to safety restraints on public school buses have apparently started a whisper campaign to say that the bill died in committee and that Haslam is passing it anyway.
The bill never died in committee. Pasted below is a screenshot of the actions in the bill. Not once was the bill ever killed in Committee.