ST. PAUL - State Rep. John Ward, DFL - Brainerd, welcomed the news that Gov. Pawlenty signed his Type III transportation legislation into law Thursday. As a result, Ward said, transportation costs for Minnesota school districts will be significantly lower.
"I appreciate the governor's quick action on the legislation, and know schools across the state will also appreciate the savings they'll see," said Ward. "This bill eliminates an unfunded mandate for schools, but still makes the safety of our kids the number one priority."
The new law changes language in a bill passed last year that was designed to increase the safety of children riding in school vans. Because of the way the Department of Public Safety interpreted the law, however, it became an unfunded mandate for school districts. The governor's action today (Thursday) reverses that mandate. Type III school buses are generally vans and are typically driven by a coach or teacher to extracurricular activities. Under the 2007 law, these individuals would be required to have the same physical exams and alcohol and drug tests that are required for full-time bus drivers, adding significant costs for school districts.
The new law corrects this problem by exempting "incidental" drivers, such as coaches and teachers, from the costly physical exam and the drug and alcohol tests. School employees whose sole duty is to transport students by bus or van must still meet all the requirements.
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