A proposal requiring seat belts on school buses moved one step closer to reality, as the legislature’s Transportation Committee voted in favor of the bill Monday 29-7.

A compromise was made prior to the vote that would require only new buses have seat belts beginning July 2012. Originally, co-chairman Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, sought to require every bus in the state have belts.

Although seat belt bills have come up in the past, the issue got fresh impetus following the death of a student from Rocky Hill in a school bus crash earlier this year. The transportation committee heard testimony last month that the death could have been prevented had Vikas Parikh been wearing a seat belt.

What if it happens again tomorrow and we had a chance to change that?” Guerrera said before the vote.

But five Republicans said, while sympathetic, said they view the proposal as a financial burden on towns.

“I believe very strongly about no, and that means zero, unfunded mandates,” said Sen. Michael A. McLachlan, R-Danbury.

Although the proposal to put seat belts in school buses has come up repeatedly–23 times in the last two decades–this is the first such measure to make it out of the Transportation Committee.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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