BY BUDDY NEVINS
With roughly one month to go in the Legislative session, the bill to limit red light cameras is on live support.
Senate Transportation Chair Jeff Brandes’ measure, which would curtail the ability of local governments to install the cameras, was temporarily postponed in the Transportation Committee last week.
The bill ( SB 144 along with a committee substitute) is still alive, barely. With half the 2014 Legislative session gone, it still must pass three Senate committees, including Transportation, and then make it through the House.
The fate of this bill depends on how much the cameras matter to Brandes. One of the bill’s co-sponsors is state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland.
The St. Petersburg Republican Transportation Chair could tack the issue on other important transportation bills. The question is whether Brandes wants to give up a chit to get it passed against fierce lobbying by opponents, including many cities and counties.
The state receives $62.45 million annually from red light violations caught by the cameras, with the bulk of the money going into the general budget.
The cities and counties who hand out the violations receive a little less of the total money.
Among other provisions, the bill would require other safety measures to be tried first at intersections before cameras are installed. It also would restrict the use of fines and end that revenue for cities and counties.
The Senate Transportation Committee staff noted that the value of the cameras was not proven. “Research reveals numerous studies of the impact of red light cameras on crashes and fatalities, and the studies are contradictory,” the staff report states.