What happened to the Red Light Camera Repeal in the 2017 Florida Legislative Session?

At the beginning of the 2017 session, the odds seemed in our favor to finally repeal red light cameras. After the 2016 general election, several former House members were elected to the Senate that had supported repealing red light cameras during their time in the House, including two Democrats. Speaker Richard Corcoran pledged to move the repeal bill through the House and even though the Senate always killed repeal efforts in the past, Senate President Negron had voiced support for repealing the cameras.

We felt this was the year to finally rid the state of these for-profit cameras that had become a public hazard. Numerous studies showed increased accidents at red light camera intersections proving what we always knew, that Red Light Cameras were not about safety and were all about revenue.

Representative Bryan Avila filed the camera repeal bill (HB 6007) in the House, which moved through the committee process without much opposition and passed the House by a greater margin than ever before: a total of 94 Yeas and only 22 Nays, or 78% for banning cameras. Last year the vote was 86 Yeas to 34 Nays.

Senator Frank Artiles filed the camera repeal bill (HB 178) in the Senate and received 4 committee referrals, with the first committee stop in the Senate Transportation Committee. SB 178 was scheduled to be heard in the Transportation Committee on February 8th. The Transportation Committee is made up of only 5 members, 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Transportation Committee member, Senator Dorothy Hukill could not attend the committee meeting due to dealing with a serious illness. This meant 4 Senators would decide the fate of the bill.

During the hearing of SB 178, many Liberty First Members were in attendance and spoke at the meeting along with LFN’s lobbyist Paul Henry. When the vote count was taken, one Republican Senator Dennis Baxley and one Democrat Senator Darryl Rousan voted in support of repeal. One Democrat, Senator Kevin Rader voted no on the bill, leaving Republican Senator George Gainer to decide the fate of the bill. Unfortunately, Senator Gainer claimed that local governments should decide whether to eliminate or keep the cameras and voted no on the bill. SB 178 failed with a 2-2 tie, meaning the camera repeal effort was dead for the year.

This is the difficulty in passing legislation, a bill must go through several committees to get to the floor for a final vote. In this case, one Senator killed the repeal of cameras, even though we felt we would have the votes if SB 178 had made it to the floor.

We were extremely disappointed the camera repeal failed in committee, but the demise of automated for-profit law enforcement is still on the way, camera supporters can only keep them on life support for so long. Support in the House to repeal cameras is growing every year, with 78% of the House supporting to repeal the cameras and this issue is becoming less partisan with more Democrats supporting repeal. Many of these House members will move to the Senate and increase the likelihood that red light cameras will soon be eliminated and moved to the dustbin of history.

How can you help put an end to the corruption, pay-offs and extortion surrounding the use of red light cameras?

1. Contact your state house and state senate representative and ask them to sponsor or co sponsor a bill to repeal the use of red light cameras in the 2018 session. Make Sure your legislators hear from you about this issue. If they do not, they assume you’re OK with keeping the cameras. CLICK HERE to find your State House Representative and CLICK HERE to find your State Senator and let them know where you stand.

2. Become a Member. On the issue of cameras, we’re grossly outspent and outnumbered by government and quasi-government lobbyists, many of whom are there on our tax dollars. We found that at the beginning of 2017, there were 3 pro-camera lobbyists for every opponent. This ratio will only get worse as more cities and counties pay lobbyists to oppose repeal of the cameras. Help us make sure that your voice is represented in Tallahassee this year and become a member TODAY.

Contact Alex Snitker at (813) 315-0513 for more information on how to become a member of the Liberty First Network.

We will be sending out reports on the specific legislation the Liberty First Network was tracking this session with our new Action Alerts E-Mail service. CLICK HERE to sign up. 

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