TAPT Position Statement on House Bill 474
The Texas Association for Pupil Transportation (TAPT) membership represents public school district transportation departments state-wide and promotes the safe, efficient and professional transportation of our school children.
The illegal passing of school buses, while loading or unloading students continues to remain a serious threat to the safety of our children. Our membership seeks the severest penalties for motorists who violate the law and place our children at risk.
The Texas Department of Public Safety conducted a one-day state-wide survey to assess the problem in 2006. The results of the survey clearly illustrated an alarming disregard for the safety of our children with 763 public school districts (including private/charter schools) reporting 12,850 incidents of illegal passing of school buses across the state.
Our law enforcement partners throughout the state have been willing to assist school districts to enforce the law but the shear number of incidents clearly indicates further steps are necessary to send a message to motorists who violate the law.
The House Public Education Committee substitute House Bill 474 provides a mechanism to enhance law enforcement efforts to reduce this problem and would send a message to the driving public that the safety of our children requires a strong response to eliminate the illegal passing of school buses.
TAPT supports and endorses House Representatives Dr. Alma A. Allen and Jim Jacksons House Bill 474 and appreciates their efforts to promote a safer environment for our children.
By: Allen H.B. No. 474
Substitute the following for H.B. No. 474:
By: Jackson C.S.H.B. No. 474
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to the authority of a school district to implement a school bus monitoring system that records images, including images of vehicles that pass a stopped school bus; providing for the imposition of penalties.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Section 545.066, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Subsection (g) to read as follows:
(g) An image recorded by the monitoring system authorized by Section 547.701(b)(3) may be used in the prosecution of an offense under this section if the image is otherwise admissible and the image clearly shows the vehicle, including the license plate attached to the vehicle, at the time the offense was alleged to have occurred.
SECTION 2. Chapter 545, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Subchapter J to read as follows:
SUBCHAPTER J. SCHOOL BUS MONITORING SYSTEM
Sec. 545.451. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
(1) "Owner of a motor vehicle" means the owner of a motor vehicle as shown on the motor vehicle registration records of the Texas Department of Transportation or the analogous department or agency of another state or country.
(2) "Recorded image" means a photographic, electronic, video, or digital image that depicts a motor vehicle.
(3) "School bus monitoring system" means a system authorized by Section 547.701(b)(3).
Sec. 545.452. AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE FOR PENALTY. (a) The board of trustees of a school district by resolution may impose a penalty on the registered owner of a vehicle that is operated in a manner that violates Section 545.066 within the school district.
(b) The resolution adopted under this section must:
(1) provide for a penalty of not less than $200 or more than $1,000;
(2) authorize an attorney employed by the school district or an attorney with whom the school district contracts to bring suit to collect the penalty;
(3) provide for notice of the violation to the registered owner of the motor vehicle that committed the violation;
(4) provide that a person against whom the school district seeks to impose a penalty is entitled to a hearing and:
(A) provide for the period in which the hearing must be held;
(B) provide for the appointment of a hearing officer with authority to administer oaths and issue orders compelling the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents; and
(C) designate the department, agency, or office of the school district responsible for the enforcement and administration of the resolution or provide that the entity with which the school district enters into a memorandum of understanding under Section 545.453(3) is responsible for the enforcement and administration of the resolution;
(5) allow for the use of images recorded by the school bus monitoring system; and
(6) provide for other procedures the board determines are necessary for the imposition of a penalty authorized by this section.
(c) Penalties collected under this section may be used by a school district only to cover the cost of:
(1) installing, operating, and maintaining the school bus monitoring system;
(2) collecting a penalty imposed under this section;
(3) developing and implementing a program that promotes student safety; and
(4) complying with Section 547.701(e).
Sec. 545.453. INSTALLATION AND OPERATION OF SCHOOL BUS MONITORING SYSTEM. A school district that implements a school bus monitoring system under this subchapter may:
(1) contract for the administration and enforcement of the system;
(2) install and operate the system or contract for the installation or operation of the system; and
(3) enter into a memorandum of understanding with a municipality or county in which the school district is located regarding administrative adjudication hearings required by a resolution adopted under this subchapter.
Sec. 545.454. GENERAL SURVEILLANCE PROHIBITED; OFFENSE. (a) A school district shall operate a monitoring system authorized by Section 547.701(b)(3) only for the purpose of detecting a violation or suspected violation of Section 545.066 within the school district.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person uses a school bus monitoring system to produce a recorded image other than in the manner and for the purpose specified by a resolution adopted under Section 545.452.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Sec. 545.455. EFFECT ON OTHER ENFORCEMENT. (a) The implementation of a school bus monitoring system by a school district under this subchapter does not:
(1) preclude the application or enforcement in the territory of the school district of Section 545.066 in the manner prescribed by Chapter 543; or
(2) prohibit a peace officer from arresting a violator of Section 545.066 as provided by Chapter 543 or from issuing the violator a citation and notice to appear as provided by that chapter.
(b) A school district may not impose a penalty under this subchapter on the owner of a motor vehicle if the operator of the vehicle was arrested or issued a citation and notice to appear by a peace officer for the same violation of Section 545.066 recorded by the school bus monitoring system.
Sec. 545.456. NOTICE OF VIOLATION; CONTENTS. (a) The imposition of a penalty under this subchapter is initiated by the mailing of a notice of violation to the owner of the motor vehicle against whom the school district seeks to impose the penalty.
(b) Not later than the 30th day after the date the violation is alleged to have occurred, the designated department, agency, or office of the school district or the entity with which the school district enters into a memorandum of understanding under Section 545.453(3) shall mail the notice of violation to the owner at:
(1) the owner's address as shown on the registration records of the Texas Department of Transportation; or
(2) if the vehicle is registered in another state or country, the owner's address as shown on the motor vehicle registration records of the department or agency of the other state or country analogous to the Texas Department of Transportation.
(c) The notice of violation must contain:
(1) a description of the violation alleged;
(2) the location where the violation occurred;
(3) the date and time of the violation;
(4) the name and address of the owner of the vehicle involved in the violation;
(5) the registration number displayed on the license plate of the vehicle involved in the violation;
(6) a copy of a recorded image of the violation that includes a depiction of the registration number displayed on the license plate of the vehicle involved in the violation;
(7) the amount of the penalty for which the owner is liable;
(8) the number of days the person has in which to pay or contest the imposition of the penalty;
(9) a statement that the owner of the vehicle in the notice of violation may elect to pay the penalty instead of appearing at the time and place of the administrative adjudication hearing; and
(10) information that informs the owner of the vehicle named in the notice of violation:
(A) of the owner's right to contest the imposition of the penalty against the person in an administrative adjudication hearing;
(B) that imposition of the penalty may be contested by submitting a written request for an administrative adjudication hearing before the expiration of the period specified under Subdivision (8); and
(C) that failure to pay the penalty or to contest liability for the penalty in a timely manner is an admission of liability.
(d) A notice of violation is presumed to have been received on the fifth day after the date the notice is mailed.
Sec. 545.457. IMPOSITION OF PENALTY NOT A CONVICTION. The imposition of a penalty under this subchapter is not a conviction and may not be considered a conviction for any purpose.
SECTION 3. Section 547.701(b), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
(b) A school bus may be equipped with:
(1) rooftop warning lamps:
(A) that conform to and are placed on the bus in accordance with specifications adopted under Section 34.002, Education Code; and
(B) that are operated under rules adopted by the school district; [and]
(2) movable stop arms:
(A) that conform to regulations adopted under Section 34.002, Education Code; and
(B) that may be operated only when the bus is stopped to load or unload students; and
(3) a monitoring system that:
(A) is capable of taking photographic, electronic, video, or digital images of vehicles that pass the bus;
(B) conforms to regulations adopted under Section 34.002, Education Code;
(C) may be operated only when the bus is stopped on a highway to load or unload students; and
(D) is capable of taking photographic, electronic, video, or digital images of a person inside the bus.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.
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