Senate Transportation Committee passes SB 168 (Red Light Camera Repeal) on February 4, 2016
At today's transportation committee meeting, SB 168, which would repeal red light cameras, was heard. The bill is sponsored by Chairman Jeff Brandes, an outspoken critic of the cameras. Speaking in favor of the bill were Catherine Baer of the Tea Party Network and Paul Henry from the Liberty First network. Paul, a retired Florida law enforcement officer, has been involved in the fight against red light cameras at the legislature since 2011, and last year he persuaded the City of Tallahassee not to renew their camera contract, thereby killing the cameras there. Paul likened the cameras to a drug that was supposed to cure a disease that not only did not cure the disease but caused more injuries and deaths. State Highway Safety report for 2015 shows crashes, serious injuries, and fatalities are all up significantly after camera use as compared to before camera use.
Opposing the bill were the usual government and quasi-government lobbyists, which this time included the City of Orlando, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Association of Counties, and the Florida League of Cities, whose lobbyist tried to backpedal with the false statement that the league neither supported nor opposed cameras. The league has had a lobbyist at nearly every camera-related hearing for the past several years and each time they have opposed nay legislation that would have removed or even reformed the cameras. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
Senator Brandes did an excellent presentation and closing on his bill, noting how no safety benefit exists and that human police officers had the discretion to issue warnings if the situation were appropriate.
In the final 4-3 vote, it was party-line with Republican Senators Brandes, Evers, Grimsley, and Simpson voting to pass the repeal, while Democrats Bullard, Braynon, and Thompson voted to continue endangering Florida motorists by continued use of the cameras, which ironically came from a Republican in 2010- proof that this is not a Democrat vs Republican issue. The bill will now advance to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The companion House Bill, 4027, has already passed it's first committee and only has one more to go.