Republicans in the Washington Legislature are keeping their eye on a Democratic-sponsored bill they oppose that would mandate school districts in the state to begin phasing out gas-powered buses and replacing them with electric ones.

Engrossed 2nd Substitute House Bill 1368 (E2SHB 1368) would require school districts to adopt a zero-emission bus grant program through the Department of Ecology (Ecology) in communities that are highly impacted by air pollution and with any buses in their fleets which were manufactured prior to 2007.

Seventh District Sen. Shelly Short (R-Addy) says she doesn't think the bill makes sense for most places in the state.

"This is a huge expense for school districts and, yes there's going to be a grant program through Ecology for those districts that want to adapt to the changes now, and I'm fine with that. I just don't like the mandate part. I think it really only needs to be applied to places where having these buses would make sense."

Short also questions the reliability of using electric-powered buses for transporting school children.

"I still question whether or not in certain parts of our state that these buses are even going to work very well. We already know that in colder weather electric cars have not worked as well as they could have."

E2SHB 1368 has received support from organizations like the Washington State PTA and the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The measure, which has 24 co-sponsors, was initially introduced last year by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) and stalled in the House.

This year, the bill passed the House on a vote of 58-39 on Feb. 9 and is now being considered by the Senate where it received a second reading in the Rules Committee yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 28).

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Washington State School Bus Law: Stop or Go

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