Legality questioned as Avon Lake moves to impose jail time for passing school buses

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AVON LAKE, Ohio– Avon Lake City Council gathered Monday night to vote on an ordinance that would make it the first in Northeast Ohio to add jail time for drivers who illegally pass school buses.

“I think we are sending a very serious message. This is a problem that is getting worse and it needs to stop,” said Ward 4 Councilman David Kos.

Kos spearheaded the legislation that would increase fines from $500 to $750 and it would allow a judge to impose up to a 30-day jail sentence.

The ordinance was put on the agenda Monday night so it could be in place before kids returned to school Wednesday. But just moments before city council was to vote, a resident brought up concerns over the legality of the ordinance.

“This piece of legislation is unconstitutional. It violates the home rule provision,” said Gerald Phillips, resident.

Council members were visibly taken back as the Phillips questioned whether they had the authority to make those amendments.

Ultimately, the vote was postponed until next Monday so that the city’s law director and municipal law director could take another look.

Whatever the outcome, Kos said the city’s mission remains the same.

“This is an issue that is getting worse and worse , not just in Avon Lake. This is something that will make our community, our kids safer. This is something that will be universally accepted in Avon Lake,” Kos said.

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