Most Iowa lawmakers agree that changes need to be made to the state’s system for inspecting school buses, but it’s unlikely a bill will pass this year because they can’t agree on what should be done.
A bill that would help close loopholes in the inspection system by requiring buses with serious problems to be re-inspected before returning to service passed the Iowa Senate on a 46-2 vote.
At least 99 school buses in Iowa have been found to have the same problems in consecutive inspections over the past five years. And Iowa school vehicles that carry fewer than 10 children aren’t required to undergo safety inspections.
Some lawmakers now want to shift bus inspections out of the Education Department and into the state Transportation Department, and that move could derail the legislation, the Des Moines Register reported.
Republican Rep. Kevin Koester, of Ankeny, said school buses should undergo the same inspections as commercial vehicles, even if the revised bill can’t be passed this year.
“I am not in a hurry to pass a bill that’s not that adequate,” he said. And the Education Department can make some changes to the inspections without a new law.
But former lawmaker Mike Cormack, who works for the Education Department, said moving the inspections would only delay needed improvements.
“It’s careless and reckless to do lawmaking on something as important as the safety of children in the waning days of a legislative session,” Cormack said. “The best thing would be to take the more well-vetted legislation and send it to the governor’s office.”
Under the original bill, school districts would see their inspection costs increase by about $470 on average.
Koester said moving inspections to the Transportation Department should save school districts money.
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