Published: May 12, 2021
By: Kathleen Peppo | LSU Manship News Service
BATON ROUGE — The House passed a bill 55-44 Tuesday to require any school bus entering the school system in 2023 or after to have seat belts for passengers.
Rep. Robby Carter, D-Amite, said he brought the bill because he knows that the state will not be able to appropriate the funds to require seat belts for passengers in all school buses retroactively.
Carter brought a successful bill in 2004 to require seat belts in school buses, but he did not find a way to fund that bill. Now, 17 years later, he hopes to pass legislation that will actually make the change he meant to make earlier in his career.
The original bill would have required that every school bus already in the school system in 2004 have seat belts installed and that every school bus added to the system have seatbelts before entering. A legislative note on the 2004 bill estimated the cost at about $34 million, according to Carter.
“I’m a realist,” Carter said, noting that he knew it was hardly feasible to put that much money toward school bus seat belts.
The current bill is a compromise by which no buses must be retroactively fitted for seat belts, and seat belts will be phased in as new buses enter the school system beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
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