One of the major themes of this year’s legislative session was one of driver safety. After decades of decreasing fatality rates on the roads, the number of Georgians killed per miles driven has been rising for the past few years. While cars have been designed with increasing safety features, drivers have themselves been becoming more dangerous to themselves and others.
The key bill this session was from Rep John Carson which bans the hand held use of cell phones while driving. Another bill, HB 978, addresses the use of cameras on school busses for motorists who pass them, and for speeding in school zones. This bill, as they say, is “for the children”.
There’s been a late push to get the Governor to veto the latter bill. The official “controversy” is that some are now claiming language changes the definition of where motorists must stop on multi-lane highways. It appears a few school districts have created their own interpretation of the law that is contrary to the Office of Legislative Counsel.
So why would some local districts be trying to kill a bill at the eleventh hour that provides greater tools to combat speeders in school zones and those passing school buses picking up or dropping off kids? Because the bill correctly redirects the fines collected to local law enforcement, not to the local school boards.
When the original bill authorizing school bus cameras in Georgia was passed, it was the local school systems that were designated to receive the fines. That’s not how public safety works.
Schools are funded to educate our kids. Funds used for public safety are under the purview of law enforcement. HB 978 makes this correction.
In the event that additional legal or court opinions contradict Legislative Counsel, there can always be a technical correction to HB 978 at a later date. That’s how our system with a part time legislature is designed to work.
Instead, some who are trusted with the education, care, and safety of Georgia’s children are advocating that a bill designed to make their schools and roads that lead that lead to them more safe should be vetoed over a quibble in language that would affect only a small portion of pick-ups and drop-offs, and then only if Legislative Counsel is wrong. It’s really hard to understand that…until you see the money trail behind the criticism.