TOPEKA — The state of Kansas is looking to change the definition of a school bus for motor-fuel tax law purposes.

Currently, the Department of Revenue specifies that gasoline, gasoline blended products and diesel used in school or school activity buses are exempt from paying motor fuel taxes.

On March 19, the House Committee of Transportation met to discuss HB2214, a bill that would remove a requirement stating a vehicle be designed for carrying more than ten passengers to be considered a school bus and remove the transportation of school personnel.

The bill was introduced to the house by Rep. Richard Proehl (R-Parsons) on Feb. 8, 2019. On Feb. 27, 124 house members voted in favor of the bill.

According to the supplemental note on House Bill No. 2214, it would allow more vehicles to be defined as school buses, increasing the number of school activity vehicles to apply for a refund on motor fuel tax. This would reduce receipts going into the State Highway Fund and Special City and County Highway Fund, according to the note.

No one testified in favor or against the bill at Tuesday’s committee meeting.

During the meeting, the committee also discussed SB 189, which creates registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles. Since no one testified for HB 2214, the committee agreed to strip the contents of HB 2214 and replace it with the amendments of SB 189. This way, SB 189 will be heard this year.

“Since no one showed up to testify that, even though I have some history in the school district dealing with school buses, I think this is an important bill to make sure we get past the session in light of the fact that we have several bills that we’re trying to signal to our constituents and the public.” Sen. Tom Hawk (D-Manhattan) said. “I would be comfortable in substituting [SB189] into that school bus bill.”

According to the fiscal note, the Department of Revenue can’t yet estimate the number of vehicles that would be considered exempt from the motor fuel tax or how the State Highway Fund and the Special City and County Highway Fund would be affected as a result of the enactment of the bill. However, the Department of Education estimates the enactment of the bill would have no fiscal effect on the department.

The meeting concluded on the note that the bill will move forward to the floor.

Olivia Schmidt is a University of Kansas senior studying journalism.

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