Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fla. House panel votes to repeal red-light camera law

The Palm Beach Post's political blog has the story:
Florida lawmakers did a U-turn Thursday on the red-light cameras they approved only last year — with a House committee approving a proposal to outlaw the devices being installed by dozens of cities.

Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey, told the Economic Affairs Committee the cameras intrude on the privacy rights of motorists, centering most of his argument on civil liberty issues.

Cities, including West Palm Beach, have been struggling with the new cameras. Some have not been drawing the significant revenue they’d hoped for through fine collections, with motorists successfully challenging citations in court.

West Palm Beach officials have lately landed more of the $150 fines from motorists accused of running red lights — but only after bringing in some top shelf attorneys to represent the city in court.

“When you have these kinds of technological advantages to police, it’s just not fair,” said Corcoran, first elected last fall but already tapped to become House speaker in 2017. “Let’s repeal this bill and look at all these technological issues from the bottom up.”

Corcoran’s bill narrowly cleared the committee on a 10-8 vote — with most Republicans supporting their rising leader. Democrats were opposed, saying the cameras deserve more time to work in cities — and that they do save lives.

Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Fort Lauderdale, acknowledged Corcoran’s freedom argument. “But you don’t have the freedom to break the law,” Jenne said.

The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference projected the red light cameras would bring in roughly $100 million into the state and $75 million into local governments over two years.

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