TOPEKA — Drivers who don't buckle up after July 1 would pay a $5 fine under a bill approved by the Senate on Saturday.
After a year, the fine will increase to $10. The money will allow Kansas to access $11 million from the federal government. Most of the money will go into the state general fund.
"The real reason we need to pass this is that same reason: It saves lives. We are still losing over 300 people a year in Kansas," said Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita. "A large portion of those are for a reason that is self-made, and that is that they are not wearing their seat belt."
A panel of lawmakers from both chambers negotiated an agreement on the bill, which allows law enforcement officers to pull over drivers for not wearing a seat belt. The Senate had previously passed similar measures with fines up to $60 per ticket, but those had foundered in the House.
Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the fines were as high as the House was likely to vote for, and were enough to qualify for the federal dollars.
Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, worried that the new law would give law enforcement officers another reason to pull over minority drivers who weren't doing anything wrong. It was a question she heard frequently from constituents, she said.
House Bill 2130 passed 29-8 and now goes to the House for a vote.
Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, has pushed for the law's passage and is expected to sign the measure.