The Senate approved a house bill Monday allowing students with learners’ permits to drive to and from the bus stop without an adult.
The bill requires students live at least seven miles from the stop.
Senator Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings) said it would help the families of those living in rural areas that have difficulty getting students to and from school.
“Sometimes when families are calving or lambing or doing whatever they do on the ranch, it is difficult for them to get away, and I think it will accommodate some needs in rural Montana that really aren’t being met,” he said.
Only family members would be allowed in the car when the student is driving alone.
The Senate voted down a bill Monday that would have prevented local governments from blocking sand and gravel operations in residential areas after the companies had gone through a state application process.
Bill supporters said the application process is tough, and local governments shouldn’t be allowed to make the call.
But, opponents argued the bill eliminates any weight public input may carry on an issue that has potential health risks.
Senator Christine Kaufmann (D-Helena) said, “Gravel pits will go in next to schools, next to homes where children live. The fine particles are suspended in the air. They can blow long distances. They get into your lungs. You know the story of silicosis. We have had good illustrations of that here in Montana.”
The bill failed its second-reading on a vote of 24-26, and lawmakers have postponed it indefinitely.
On Friday, the Senate voted down a bill making it a crime to text while driving.
Senator Anders Blewett (D-Great Falls) said texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence.
“We have a culture that says you can do whatever you want while you’re driving. Well, guess what? People are dying. People are getting catastrophically injured. Montana needs safer highways, and our constituents are tired of people driving around texting,” he said.
But, opponents argued the law would be unenforceable and that some studies show communities with texting laws are more dangerous because people try to hide their phones and text on their laps.