A bill to allow school districts to place advertisements on school buses has died in the Idaho House.
The measure was altered by House members a few weeks ago to quell safety concerns held by some lawmakers, but it seems changes may not have been enough.
House members voted 30-39 to kill the bill.
The bill wouldn’t have required local districts to put ads on buses, but rather would have allowed them to enter into contracts with companies at their own discretion. No ads containing obscenity, explicit material, or drug or alcohol references would have been allowed. The bill would have prevented ads from being placed on the inside of buses.
The measure was backed by the Meridian School District, which projected that it could generate as much as $400,000 in new revenue annually if allowed to advertise on buses.
Still, it seems safety concerns overcame the desire for more revenue for schools. Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said that buses are painted and marked in an attention-getting fashion for a reason. “I do not believe advertising belongs on a school bus,” he said.
Rep. Bob Schaefer, R-Nampa, issued a similar warning. “Unless you’re putting advertisements on the roof of the bus, you’re inviting distracted driving,” he cautioned.
Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, said that ads have been placed on buses in other states without harm or accident. “I think we worry ourselves needlessly over this particular issue,” Shirley contended.
But Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, took a different angle in her opposition to the bill. Sims told colleagues that advertising on school buses would hurt the private sector. “This is government taking over jobs that are done by private enterprise,” she complained.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Reed DeMourdaunt, R-Eagle, said that the bill does not force districts to place advertisements, but would only give them the option to do so. “This is an opportunity to supplement the dollars in our education system,” said DeMourdaunt. “There are districts that would like the opportunity to do this.”