House OKs bill allowing ads on sides of school buses

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 15 2011 1:18 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would allow school districts to sell advertising space on its bus exteriors was resurrected by the House Tuesday, after failing on the floor last month.

Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, changed HB 199 in an effort to appease some of his colleagues' concerns about safety issues. He amended the bill to include restrictions on the size an advertisement could be, limiting ads to only 35 percent of the size of the side of the bus. The bill already prevented ads from being placed on the front or the back of the bus.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, also amended the bill to specify that funds generated from the sale of bus ads must go toward paying for transportation costs, rather than into the district or charter school's general fund.

Not everyone was convinced the amendments solved their original safety concerns.

Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, contested Bird's claims that ads don't distract other drivers or compromise safety.

"The side of a school bus is designed to look like a school bus for a reason," Ipson said, "not a moving billboard, not an advertising studio."

Others applauded Bird's efforts to create innovative funding options for schools, but thought there were less flashy options.

"I think there are better ways to advertise," said Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper.

Christensen said it would be more appropriate to simply put a business or individual's name on the side of the bus rather than an ad that could occupy up to 35 percent of the vehicle's side.

"I just don't think it's essential or critical," he said.

Overall, the amendments worked, resulting in a favorable vote of 42-30. The bill now moves to the Senate.

E-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com

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