Bill that would allow ads on school buses could go for House vote this week

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By William Croyle

The Kentucky Enquirer

A bill that would allow advertising on school buses could go to a vote in the House this week.

House Bill 30, proposed by Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, and co-sponsored by six other legislators, would enable school district’s to sell exterior advertising on buses.

Similar legislation proposed last year passed the House but died in the Senate.

The bill would prohibit the advertising of alcohol and tobacco products, and political or campaign messages.

Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, also added an amendment to it that would prohibit sexual-oriented businesses from advertising.

“I know there are some valid concerns about the bill, but it’s certainly an opportunity for schools to raise revenue without having to raise taxes,” Koenig said.

Most states, including Ohio, do not allow exterior advertising on school buses. About a half-dozen do, such as Colorado and Tennessee, while others, such as Florida, are considering it.

Colorado Springs School District 11 was the first in the nation to do it in 1993. Their revenue from it has ranged from $40,000 to as much as $150,000 annually.

The bill calls for all advertising to not interfere with any warning or reflective materials on the bus and to be below the bottom of the windows, from behind the front wheel to the front of the back wheel and from the back wheel to the end of the bus.

When the bill was proposed last year, Bob Riley, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, said his organization was adamantly against any exterior advertising because of safety concerns. He said it could take away from the “iconic nature” of the yellow school bus with black markings that are “very noticeable to the public.”

Riley reiterated that stance on Monday. “What’s come up in Kentucky is coming up in a number of states because of the money crunch in many districts. But our position is still the same from the safety perspective.”

The board of education in each district would decide whether or not to allow advertising, the content of advertising and the length and terms of advertising contracts, according to the bill.