Buckle up, Texas students: New school buses must have seat belts

Texas school districts have been competing for qualified school bus drivers.
Texas school districts have been competing for qualified school bus drivers. Dallas Morning News

Some Texas students will soon be getting a safer ride to and from school.

A new law requires that any new school buses bought in Texas must include three-point seat belts.

That means that school kids of all ages will finally have to buckle up on all rides, due to Senate Bill 693, which went into effect Sept. 1.

Every day, around 1.5 million Texas students ride a bus to and from school or events.

And a number of school bus accidents have led to countless injuries and deaths of children across the state.

The new Texas law doesn’t require older buses to be retrofitted, but any bus models starting in 2018 must include the seat belts.

The Fort Worth school district has about 400 buses, 70 percent with seat belts, mostly the lap-belt type, said Clint Bond, a spokesman for the district.

All of the special-needs buses already come with full three-point belts. And the most recent order of buses, around 20, will have those seat belts as well, Bond said.

Senate District 10

The race for many Texas House and Senate seats won’t fire up until next year, or at least until filing formally begins Nov. 11.

But already, questions are being raised about two Democrats planning to run for Senate District 10 — a key battleground seat long described as neither solidly Republican nor Democratic — that currently is represented by state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville.

Beverly Powell, a Burleson school board member, plans to formally kick off her campaign Saturday at Texas Wesleyan University. Some question past votes she cast in Republican primary elections.

“I’m running a positive campaign focused on finding real solutions for Tarrant County families, and I plan to keep it that way,” she said in response.

At the same time, questions also are coming up about Allison Campolo, a Euless research scientist, and her move to Tarrant County this year that made her eligible to run for this post.

Campolo said she has lived in DFW her whole life and earlier this year moved into a home in Euless to be closer to her husband’s job. She said she will easily meet the eligibility that states a candidate must live in the district one year before the general election, which is November 2018. “Thus, there is no question regarding my eligibility for this office,” she said.

No confidence

Tarrant County Republicans have a lack of confidence in Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.

Straus, who plans to seek a record sixth term as speaker in 2019, has been taking flak from some locals and conservative Republicans statewide because of his opposition to the so-called “bathroom bill” this year.

The Tarrant County Executive Committee, a group of conservative grassroots activists, on Thursday approved a resolution asking for a new speaker of the Texas House.

“Joe Straus is not a conservative,” said Tim O’Hare, who heads the Tarrant County Republican Party. “There were a number of idea or bills that Gov. Abbott proposed that the House didn’t vote on.”

That, O’Hare said, was because of Straus.

“It’s clearly time for a new speaker,” he said.

A number of GOP groups across the state — including those in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Hood and Tom Green counties — have passed similar no-confidence resolutions.

Even so, many Republicans say Straus faces no problem in his re-election bid next session.

“I think that they are being silly,” said state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, and a top lieutenant for Straus. “I don’t think this will have any impact whatsoever.”

Geren stressed the pro-life measures the House, under Straus, has delivered. And he noted that top leaders have stressed how conservative the legislative sessions have been while Straus has guided the House.

“I don’t see that he will have any problem (with re-election as speaker) whatsoever,” Geren said.

Also on Thursday, the Tarrant County GOP Executive Committee rejected resolutions to censure Tarrant County Justices of the Peace Russell B. Casey and Jacquelyn Wright.

Damaged by Harvey

Texans who lost or had damaged their License to Carry a Handgun or Private Security Board licensee cards due to Hurricane Harvey can get a replacement card at no cost.

license to carry
Texans must get a License to Carry a handgun in order to carry guns — openly or concealed — in Texas. NICK OXFORD NYT

Gov. Greg Abbott recently called on the Texas Department of Public Safety to reissue these cards to anyone whose IDs were damaged or lost and lives in one of the counties impacted by Harvey.

“As Texas begins the recovery process, we are prepared to respond to a wide range of issues to help victims of this Hurricane,” Abbott said. “By eliminating burdensome fees to replace these important licenses, Texans can focus on rebuilding their lives and communities.”

Texans seeking the fee waiver must call the Regulatory Services Division contact center at 512-424-7293 for help.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley