Rep. Klicker’s legislation to protect students and drivers on school buses receives a public hearing

A new piece of legislation from Rep. Mark Klicker that would provide more safety for bus drivers and students who ride buses received a public hearing in the Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee on Thursday.

“This bill would make school buses safer for both students and bus drivers. It’s that simple,” said Klicker, R-Walla Walla. “We had a tragedy in my area a few years ago where a bus driver was brutally stabbed to death in front of 35 elementary students he was preparing to transport. It was a terrible incident that hurt the entire community. My legislation is aimed at preventing this kind of tragedy from ever happening again.”

House Bill 2133, the “Richard L. Lenhart Act” would protect the safety and security of students and maintain order within public school buses by designating trespassing on a public school bus as a felony offense. It would also allow for warning signs to be posted on all public school buses in a manner easily visible for everyone to see.

The bill would create the crime of “school bus trespass,” which would be classified as a class C felony with a seriousness level three ranking. A person would be guilty of a “school bus trespass” offense if he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a public school bus or does any other intentional act that disrupts the normal operation of the bus.

It would apply to any vehicle owned, leased, or operated by a public school district or education institution for the purpose of transporting students to and from school or school-related activities.

“We need to keep our kids safe. This legislation is really a no-brainer, and we should be able to get this done,” said Klicker. “Our school grounds are protected from trespassing, and our buses should be too. The House recently voted to make the harassment of election workers with injury through words or conduct a class C felony. If we can create legislation to protect election workers, we should do the same for students, bus drivers, and all school employees. None of us ever want to see another incident like the one that happened in the Tri-Cities a few years ago, and that’s exactly what this bill aims to do.”

If the policy becomes law, school districts and educational institutions would have to implement educational programs and awareness campaigns to educate students, parents, and the community about the importance of maintaining safety and security on public school buses.

They would also have to collaborate with local law enforcement to establish protocols and procedures to ensure effective enforcement of the law.

The bill now waits for a vote from the Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov