The State Legislature today gave final legislative approval to a measure (A.5533-A/S.8431) that would enact tougher penalties for dealing drugs on school buses. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, who sponsored the bill, said, “We’ve already enacted tougher penalties for dealing drugs on or near school grounds. Extending the same protection to children on school buses is a ‘no-brainer.’”
The measure doubles the minimum sentence for the class B felony of criminal sale of a controlled substance to at least two years if the crime occurs on a school bus or other school vehicle transporting children to or from school activities. A maximum sentence of nine years could be imposed.
Substance abuse is one of the most important and preventable health problems among teenagers, who are at increased risk as a result of societal and cultural pressures as well as developmental factors. “Most parents are trying to do all they can to keep their kids drug-free. They have a right to expect protecting their children will continue to be a priority when they board the school bus,” said Schimminger. “We need to protect children on their way to and from school as well as when they’re in school.”
If signed by the governor, the measure could be in effect for the school year beginning this coming September. The measure was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Stephen Saland.