Rep. Brandon and Sen. Bingham Want to Change Laws

11:29 PM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC - When it comes to our children's safety, our politicians seem to agree.

In December, police say Billy Bailey ignored a school bus stop arm and hit and killed 11-year-old Hasani Wesley.

Bailey faces as little as 5 months but no more than 17 months in prison.

READ: Are Sentencing Guidelines Tough Enough?

State Representative Marcus Brandon says it's not enough.

"The first thing that comes to my mind is 'Wow'," said Rep. Brandon, Guilford County. "And like I said, their parents, they should be very upset and it doesn't seem [like] justice and as far as I'm concerned, justice has not been served in that case. We have a lot of laws on the book and we're trying to move things but at the end of day when we hear these stories it's up to us that we correct the problems."

Representative Brandon says he is planning on introducing legislation that would bring the jail time from a of couple months, to a of couple years. He wants to change the felony classification to increase the sentence for committing this crime. Currently, passing a stopped school bus and killing a child is a class-h felony.  Just a few years ago, it was only a misdemeanor. 

"It's not in our mindset, and we have to strengthen these laws and make them tougher so we can get the public to know this is a serious crime and they have serious consequences for it and they have serious consequences to it," explained Brandon.
Brandon has an unique viewpoint on the issue because in college, he drove school buses as a part-time job.


"Literally it was my biggest fear every day. I was hoping and praying that that day that happened to that mother would never happen to me. Because I knew how easily it could happen. People just don't pay attention," said Brandon.

Brandon is in the process of putting together this bill. He hopes to introduce it this session. Meanwhile, Senator Stan Bingham has already introduced legislation to toughen school bus laws.
"It's such a terribly serious offense so if we take it to the point of losing their license, and then possibly a felon on a second charge, they'd see that the state of North Carolina is not playing around with this," said Senator Bingham, Davidson and Montgomery Counties.

Bingham legislation would immediately suspend a person's license for six months if they're caught passing a stopped school bus. 

"We have to be reasonable about this but I think if most people understand that the legislature is serious about this offense, and they are going to lose their license automatically, you can't get out of it, it's going to stop a lot of these," said Bingham.

Melissa Drozdowski is encouraging lawmakers like Bingham and Brandon to pass this type of legislation. She's started an online petition urging legislators to make these changes a top priority. 

READ: Mom Petitions for Stronger School Bus Laws

So far, she has more than 500 signatures. Her goal is 10,000. 


WFMY News 2

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