- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The state Senate gave final legislative approval Monday to a bill that would help school districts equip their school buses with cameras to help catch motorists who illegally pass stopped buses.

House Bill 5 passed on a 19-11 vote and now goes to Gov. Matt Mead for his consideration.

It is estimated that buses stopped to pick up or discharge students are passed illegally in Wyoming about 52,000 times every year. In 2011, an 11-year-old girl was struck and killed in Fremont County as she crossed a highway after getting off a school bus that had its flashing lights activated. The driver of the vehicle was convicted of several charges, including homicide by vehicle.

Under the legislation, the state will provide up to $5 million for districts to place the cameras on school buses.

Opponents of the bill didn’t like the punitive nature of the legislation. They argued in favor of more preventive solutions, such as better training for bus drivers, better warning lights on the buses and public information campaigns.

Sens. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, and Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, said the bill only helps police catch offenders more easily.

“Cameras don’t work. They work for prosecution but they don’t work for prevention,” Meier said during Monday’s floor debate.

But supporters of the cameras countered that increasing prosecution of people who illegally pass school buses is a form of prevention because word will get around when people start getting ticketed.

Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, said if prosecuting people for illegally passing buses doesn’t reduce such offenses then the same would be true for other illegal acts.

“Why don’t we quit prosecuting people if it doesn’t work?” Landen asked.