Texas parents: A plan to make kids buckle up on new school buses moves forward

Texas school kids could soon be told to buckle up on new buses bought by their school district, under a bill heading to the Texas Senate.
Texas school kids could soon be told to buckle up on new buses bought by their school district, under a bill heading to the Texas Senate. Dallas Morning News

A proposal requiring all new school buses in Texas to be equipped with seat belts is making its way through the Texas Legislature.

The plan by state Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Houston, has been approved by the Senate’s Transportation Committee and now heads to the full Senate.

Each day, around 1.5 million Texas youths ride a bus to and from school or events. A number of school bus accidents have led to countless injuries and deaths of children across the state.

“The goal of this legislation is to protect children, prevent injuries, and demonstrate that the State of Texas is serious about the safety of school children,” Garcia said of Senate Bill 693, which requires school buses with the 2017 model year or newer that are bought by school districts to include three-point seat belts.

“We spend a lot of tax dollars educating children to buckle up. Not requiring them to buckle up on the way to school is inconsistent,” she said. “Parents rely on school transportation to get their children to school safely. New buses equipped with seat belts will get us where we need to be.”

Town halls

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, has been holding town hall meetings to hear from constituents, including one in Mansfield.

Residents gathered at the meetings to talk about issues ranging from President Donald Trump to the military strike in Syria to GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The recent town hall in Mansfield drew more than just constituents — it also drew The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, a Showtime real-time documentary series that follows “the circus” of politics. Mark McKinnon, a political adviser and co-creator of the show.

Barton, whose district includes parts of Arlington, plans to hold one more town hall meeting this month, at 6 p.m. April 20 at the Waxahachie City Hall.

New duties

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is now serving on the board of directors for MoneyOnMobile, an India mobile payment network.

Hutchison, who retired from the U.S. Senate in 2013, serves as senior counsel at Bracewell LLP, and as a member of Bank of America’s Global Advisory Council.

“We are thrilled to have Sen. Hutchison join our board,” said Harold Montgomery, Chairman and CEO of MoneyOnMobile, Inc. “She brings a wealth of knowledge in technology and government that will help our company immeasurably as we grow and expand the financial infrastructure of India.

“She also brings a passion and commitment to improving the lives of women and their families through financial empowerment.”

Bond elections in May

If you want to know more about bond projects across the state that will be on the May election ballot, the Texas Comptroller’s office has a list you’ll want to read.

The list shows billions of dollars in bond elections for about 70 different entities — from the $45 million Arlington is seeking for an adult activity center to the $208 million the Carroll school district wants for school improvements, athletics and transportation — that will be on the May 6 ballot.

“These elections often don’t get much attention, especially in odd-numbered years when there isn’t much on the ballot,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. “We want to make sure voters have the information they need to make smart choices when it comes to their local finances.”

The comptroller’s office has released a Debt-at-a-Glance tool to update Texans about debt in cities, counties, school districts, community college districts and the state.

Local appointment

A Fort Worth man has been reappointed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to serve on the governing board of the Department of Information Resources.

Ben Gatzke, president and CEO of BorrowWorks and a member of the Jewel Charity, will serve on the board for a term that will expire Feb. 1, 2023. The department “coordinates, monitors and directs information resources management within state government,” according to Abbott’s office.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley