Texas Senate passes bill requiring school bus seat belts

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Thousands more Texas children could soon have seat belts on the buses they ride to school.

The state Senate voted 25-6 on Tuesday to approve legislation that would require all new school buses to come equipped with safety belts. The measure now heads to the Texas House.

It doesn't include extra state funding to pay for seat belts, and the bill's author, Democratic Sen. Sylvia Garcia of Houston, said schools districts can opt out if they can't afford them.

Advocates say the bill's critical to ensuring students' safety in crashes. Those opposed say installation is costly and schools could use that funding for other needs.

The state Legislature approved $10 million in grant funding for optional school bus seat belts in 2009, but a very small percentage of school districts installed them.