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School bus stop arm violations could become pricier

By Jonathan Avise
School kids disembark from a bus at the State Capitol. House Photography file photo

Violating school bus stop arm laws could get more expensive under a bill approved Monday by the House Transportation Finance Committee.

Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) sponsors HF380 that would raise the minimum fine for failing to stop for a school bus that has activated its flashing lights and stop-arm from $300 to $500. The violation would remain a misdemeanor.

Representing the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association, Tom Keliher told the committee that during a recent one-day survey of Minnesota school bus drivers roughly 500 violations were reported. Urdahl said there are only around 300 convictions per year for violation of school bus stop-arm statutes.

“Raising the fine will, hopefully, raise the awareness,” Keliher said.

The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. A companion, SF2202, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), awaits action by the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.

A previous version of the bill included language that would have prevented prosecutors and judges from lowering the fine as a part of any plea agreement. That stipulation was dropped over concerns expressed in an earlier committee hearing, Urdahl said.

“We couldn’t get the bill passed with that in there,” he said. 

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