State lawmakers endorse double fines for passing stopped school buses

By Cole Lauterbach
The Center Square

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers have endorsed steeper fines for drivers who pass a school bus when they’re dropping off or picking up kids.

The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, is on its way to the governor’s desk for consideration.

Senate sponsor Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said the bill would increase penalties for drivers who ignore a school bus’ lights and stop arm.

“It would raise it from $150 to $300 for the first offense and $500 to $1,000 for the second offense,” he said.

The legislation passed unanimously in the Senate, but drew vocal opposition in the House last month, including from now-Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, who said raising fines without educating people about them won’t fix the issue.

“All you’re going to do is put them in a deeper hole,” she said.

State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, also opposed the fines.

“Raising penalties on behaviors doesn’t deter those behaviors, it just punishes the people who do them more,” he said.

Other states, like Minnesota, send people to jail for up to a year for passing a school bus when children are present.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has not indicated whether or not he supports increasing the penalties.

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