Senate panel rejects bill on school-bus advertising
The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have opened the door to advertising on the sides of school buses, prompting outrage from the legislation's author: GOP leader Bob Huff.
The Diamond Bar Republican said his bill, SB 1295, was a creative way to generate millions of dollars for cash-strapped school districts, without raising taxes. He noted seven states already allow advertising on the exterior of school buses and blasted Democrats on the committee for rejecting the measure.
“As Democrats base the educational future of our schoolchildren on a tax measure that may or may not get approved this November, we need to lead by finding alternative ways to help protect our teachers and continue to provide a quality education to our children,” Huff said in a statement.
Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget calls for a $4.8-billion cut in public school funding if voters reject the new levies. The office of state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chairman of the education committee, did not return a call seeking comment.
In his remarks to the committee, Huff said he had amended his legislation to limit the size of ads and to prohibit them from "going digital." He also noted that current law already allows school districts to advertise in hallways, lunch rooms, school publications and inside school buses.
The National Assn. of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, which represents school bus manufacturers and suppliers as well as local school administrators, opposed the legislation on safety grounds. Advertising, the group said, would diminish buses' distinct yellow coloring and distract motorists, increasing the chances for an accident.
Huff dismissed the concerns.
"The opposition I get on this is, 'Well, we don't want to mess with school buses,'" the lawmaker said. "There is not a person on the planet that's not going to recognize a school bus."
The committee granted Huff "reconsideration," meaning it could return for a hearing this legislative session.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A student flashes the peace sign after boarding a school bus at Taft High School in Woodland Hills on Feb. 2. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times