School Bus Advertising Bill Stopped

February 15, 2018

HB 809 (O’Quinn), which would permit local school boards to display advertising material on the school buses, has ended its ride through the 2018 General Assembly Session.

The bill permits local school boards to display commercial advertising material on the sides of school buses between the rear wheels and the rear of the bus, provided that no such material 1) obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus; 2) is sexually explicit; or 3) pertains to alcohol; food or beverages that do not meet the nutrition standards developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 or any additional state or local nutrition standards for food or beverages sold to students in school; gambling; politics; or tobacco.

Delegate Israel O’Quinn worked extensively with various stakeholders to ensure the type of advertisements permitted was very narrowly defined in order to avoid various First Amendment concerns. More recently, Delegate O’Quinn had offered an amendment that would allow school boards to advertise for open school positions (including bus driver positions) as well.

HB 809 passed the House on February 2 by a vote of 74-22 and was referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.  Questions arose, however, in the ensuing weeks about where this advertising revenue would or should go (to the locality or to the school board) and whether it should be spent in particular ways.  Thus on February 15, the Committee voted to carry HB 809 over to the 2019 session and instruct the Joint Committee to Study the Future of Public Elementary and Secondary Education in the Commonwealth to further examine this concept.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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