Lawmakers Have Difficult Time Navigating Seat Belt Bill

Posted at 4:54 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 20:15:17-04

The debate continued over whether to mandate all school buses in Tennessee be equipped with seat belts, a bipartisan move being pushed by lawmakers after six elementary school students died in a Chattanooga bus crash in 2016.

The bill would mandate any school bus bought in Tennessee after 2018 have child restraints. The fiscal note on the proposal estimated it would cost the state about $12 million.

"You cannot put a price on a life... we need to come up with the best bill we can so that those lives lost in Hamilton County were not lost in vain," Democrat JoAnne Favors said.

Favors, whose district includes Chattanooga, continued to push back against lawmakers on Wednesday who called the proposal "bad policy."

"It is not a bad bill, and it is not a dangerous bill," she added.

Representative Eddie Smith, a Republican from Knoxville, also spoke up in support of the bill.

"Unless you’ve sat down with the parents who’ve lost children and look at the picture of the bus and the blood running down the side and know kids lost their lives, you can’t sit here and say it will cost more lives. It’s already costing them," Smith said passionately before the House Education Committee.

Terri Lynn Weaver, a staunch opponent of the bill, fired back.

"Who is going to make sure those children are put in the seat belt? Who is going to be in that bus helping these children get out should god forbid it go over a bridge into water, be caught on fire?" Weaver asked.

Discussion on the bill was so lengthy that a vote on it was delayed until next week.