A Florida House subcommittee today overwhelmingly supported a bill that would allow advertising on public school buses.
The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee passed the House bill by a vote of 12-2. The bill made it out of the House K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee by a 13-0 vote last month. It is now awaiting a hearing by the House Education Committee.
On Monday, a Senate committee on the Education PreK-12 budget passed a new related Senate bill by a 4-2 vote. That bill was filed in September after initial legislation ultimately failed last spring. It is now headed to the Senate Committee on Transportation.
The Senate bill would amend state code to authorize commercial advertisements on the exterior of buses and to develop signage and equipment standards. The bill would allow districts to be reimbursed by advertisers for all costs including retrofitting the buses, storing the ads, attaching the ads to the bus and any related maintenance. Fifty percent of the revenues would go to transportation with 25 percent being allocated to programs at the discretion of the district. The remaining money would be allocated to an endowment that provides income to the district through interest that is matched by corporate or individual donations.
If passed and signed, the law would go into effect July 1.
The ads could not promote the sale or use of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, be discriminatory, imply school district endorsement of any product or service, or contain sexual material of any nature. The bill also states that the ads could not distract from required safety equipment on the bus.
The ads could be no larger than 2 feet high by 6 feet long and could be attached or painted on the bus as long as they present no danger to pedestrians and do not interfere with the operation of any door, window, required lettering, lights, reflectors "or other device."
Last January, the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation published a position paper in opposition to school bus ads, namely that they cause distractions to other motorists who should be on the lookout for school children.