TOPEKA, Kan. — Contracted school bus drivers here are asking lawmakers to approve legislation that would make them eligible to receive unemployment benefits during the summer months when school is not in session.

The drivers from Teamsters Locals 838, 696, and 795 went to the state Capitol on Monday to lobby on behalf of Senate Bill 38 and House Bill 2315, legislation that would extend unemployment insurance (UI) to school bus drivers employed by private contractors during the summer months, according to a news release from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“This legislation will improve equity, safety, and retention in the school bus industry,” said Matt Hall, secretary, treasurer, and business agent for Teamsters Local 696. “Other seasonal workers in Kansas, including bus monitors, are able to collect UI. There’s no reason school bus drivers should be exempt.”

The drivers were joined by Gov. Laura Kelly, Kansas Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia, Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, and Sen. Anthony Hensley in their support for the two bills. Kelly addressed a delegation of drivers regarding the importance of passing the legislation.

“Just because you’re not driving in June and July doesn’t diminish the fact that you need to be there in August, so we’ve got to figure out a way to make this happen,” Kelly said.

As SBF previously reported in 2015, school bus drivers had asked state legislators to support a similar bill that would allow them to collect unemployment benefits. Senate Bill 3, which was sponsored by Sen. Faust-Godeau, would have removed language from the state's current unemployment law that makes privately contracted bus drivers ineligible for benefits between school years. However, the bill died in the state Senate, according to the state’s legislative website.

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