WICHITA, Kan. — On Tuesday, school bus drivers asked Kansas legislators during a legislative forum to support a proposed bill that would make them eligible to collect unemployment benefits during summer break when school is not in session, The Wichita Eagle reports.

The proposed bill would remove language from the current unemployment law that makes privately contracted school bus drivers ineligible for benefits between school years, according to the news outlet. Bus drivers who have a contract or “reasonable assurance” of re-employment when school resumes currently are denied benefits.

Drivers argued that the lack of benefits puts stress on families, and receiving the benefits is a matter of fairness, since bus drivers also pay taxes into the unemployment system, the newspaper reports. Scharlene Porchia-Washington, who works for First Student, said she thought unemployment benefits would help reduce turnover and “ensure those drivers who are dedicated to their jobs and the children return for the next school year,” according to The Wichita Eagle.

The bill is expected to be introduced during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 12, and is sponsored by Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, the newspaper reports. The proposed changes to the law would affect privately contracted school bus drivers only, according to The Wichita Eagle.

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