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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BRALEY of Iowa. Madam Chair, I want to make a specific point of emphasizing that I'm offering this amendment in honor of one of the gentleman from Iowa's constituents, a young, 7-year-old girl named Kadyn Halverson who, on May 10 of 2011, was struck and killed by a pickup truck while exiting a school bus.

And this particular section of the bill deals with the report language that talks about, among other things, the ability to talk about safety and pupil transportation relating to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. So to understand the purpose behind this amendment, it's important to know how this tragedy happened.

This young girl was crossing the street to board her school bus. The bus had its red lights flashing. The stop arm was activated, and a pickup truck traveling at 60 miles an hour struck and killed her. The driver tested positive for marijuana and later pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Now, this is one isolated incident in my home State, but statistics show that 13 million violations occur in this country every year of vehicles passing stopped school buses. It's obvious we have a serious problem, and my amendment would use this funding for the purpose of working with States to create tougher sanctions and tougher enforcement to reduce this alarming problem of people violating the law and passing stopped school buses.

The intent of my amendment is to require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, otherwise known as NHTSA, to prioritize at least $10 million for school bus safety work and, specifically, to work with State and local law enforcement to improve enforcement of State law concerning illegally passing stopped school buses.

My amendment would ensure that we are enforcing the laws on the books pertaining to stopping those school buses. It's a part of an ongoing effort to provide safety to kids who are going to school and returning every day; 13 million violations a year is way too many. We have an obligation to work with States. My amendment would do that by directing NHTSA to use this opportunity to help those States become more effective in preventing these tragedies.

It wasn't the only one that has become of significance in my State in the past year; 11-year-old Justin Bradfield of Janesville, Iowa, was tragically killed in 2011 after being struck by a school bus. That's why earlier this year I introduced Kadyn's Act in the House. The bill would encourage States to toughen their penalties for those found guilty of passing a stopped school bus.

I am honored to have the subcommittee chairman as a cosponsor of that legislation. I hope that my colleagues will support this amendment, and I urge them to work to pass both these bills to make it safer for our kids to get to school and back.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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