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Iowa Senate Passes Bill Increasing Penalties For School Bus Traffic Law Violators

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DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Senate unanimously voted Thursday to increase penalties for people who disobey traffic laws governing how motorists and school buses share the road.

The legislation is unofficially called Kadyn's Law for 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson who was killed last May when she was struck by a pickup while she went to board a school bus.

The tragedy inspired Kadyn's mother, Kari, and her supporters to advocate for changes to the traffic code that imposes fines of $200 for people who illegally pass stopped school buses or buses with their amber lights flashing.

Dressed in matching pink T-shirts, Halverson and her supporters became familiar sights at the Capitol this year as they pressed lawmakers for votes and testified in committee rooms.

"I was thinking about Kadyn and all the children she's going to be helping with this," Halverson said following the unanimous Senate vote that she watched from the gallery. "It was very emotional watching it."

Under the bill, Senate File 2218, a first offense fine is at least $250 and up to $675, and a violator can be sent to jail for up to 30 days. A second offense within five years is a serious misdemeanor, with fines ranging from $315 to $1,875 and a jail term up to a year.

The legislation also requires the state to undertake a public education campaign to raise awareness about the law and its penalties.

"The action today by the Iowa Senate is hopefully not only a part of the healing process for the family, but a sincere illustration of a caring community's response, an attentive legislature's response, and an outstanding advocacy response," said Sen. Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Amanda Ragan, D-Mason City. "This legislation will hopefully prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again."

Ragan called on her colleagues to make a "bold declaration" for child safety by approving the bill.

Sen. Rob Hogg, R-Cedar Rapids, who managed the bill on the Senate floor, gave a word of warning: "Iowans, you've got to obey this law. Kids are getting on and off school buses every day, and you've got to obey this law."

The measure now goes to the House, where it is not expected to meet any opposition.

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