The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) to the fiscal year 2013 transportation appropriations bill that directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to appropriate $10 million of its budget to help states enforce laws that target motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is tracking the legislation and said the House bill is expected to be reconciled with a Senate version.
Braley's amendment came on the heels of federal legislation he introduced in March that mirrors that of "Kadyn's Law" that passed the Iowa Legislature earlier this year and was signed by Gov. Terry Branstad. The Iowa law was introduced in response to the death 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was struck in May 2011 by a motorist who ignored a school bus with its red loading lights flashing and its stop arm extended. Halverson was crossing the street from her babysitter's house to the bus when the driver of a pickup truck hit the first grader and dragged her body some 200 feet before speeding off.
Braley's bill would require all states to increase fines for first-time offenders to $250 and the possibility of 30 days in jail. A second offense committed within the next five years would result in a fine from $385 to $1,875 and up to a year in jail. A federal law could also cut state federal highway funds by 10 percent for each year the state fails to adopt the standards. The House has yet to act on this legislation.
NSTA said it is continuing to work with Braley as well as with Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), the chairman of the House transportation, housing and urban development appropriations subcommittee, to push the amendment forward.