Despite concerns, bill allowing cameras on school buses passes committee

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The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday which would authorize local school boards to install cameras on school buses to catch people who violate stop signs on the side of buses. The bill makes it optional for school districts to do so.

SB215 from Sen. Jimmy Holley (R-Elba) brought forth the bill because he aims to create a “safe environment for our school children to get on and off school buses.” Holley noted that there are multiple accounts each year of children being injured due to a driver’s failure to yield to a school bus’s stop sign and hundreds of related offenses.

Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) voiced multiple concerns over the legislation, specifically how the cameras would be installed and maintained. Holley said that it would the responsibility of local school boards to pay for the cameras, noting that it might require multiple cameras on each school bus.

Concerns were also voiced over the constitutionality of such cameras, with lawmakers noting that cameras on street lights and in unmanned police cars are widely unpopular and often unconstitutional. Holley had no real explanation as to what makes these cameras different, only that they would go a long way in curbing the practice of ignoring school bus signals and provide ways to prosecute those who do.

Further concern was raised over the fact that law enforcement is not involved in the installation of the cameras, but Holley affirmed that local law enforcement must be brought into the fold when a municipality decides to install such cameras.

The cameras will shoot footage of the offender’s license plate, therefore holding accountable the car owner regardless of who is operating the vehicle.

The bill has already passed the Senate and its passage through the House committee clears it for a reading before the full House of Representatives.

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