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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House signals support for traffic cameras



A bill green-lighting the use of surveillance cameras targeting red-light runners is closer than ever to passing, with the House signing off on the practice Monday.

The proposal by Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, passed 101-7 and would allow cities and counties to place the cameras on state-owned property and would set up statewide fines and rules for their use.

Right now, about 30 local governments have agreed to use the devices to ticket by remote control. But state law bars the placement of the cameras on state-owned property, so municipalities have steered around the ban by placing the devices on locally owned property or on private land.

A similar proposal is expected to get a vote in the Senate this week.

Privacy efforts have stalled perennial efforts to lift the state's red-light camera prohibition. But supporters say the proliferation of the devices has propelled the need for uniform camera rules. Another selling point: money. Both the Senate and the House proposals funnel a portion of the $150 fine into the state's general revenue pot. Another chunk of the money goes into a Department of Health trust fund to be sent to Florida trauma centers, public hospitals and certain nursing homes.

Under both proposals, locals still get 60 percent of the money if the cameras are on a city or county road.

But with the Senate plan, if the devices are watching a state road, local governments wouldn't get any of the money.

However, Sen. Thad Altman, the bill's Senate sponsor, said last week that the Senate is still working out some of the details of the proposal (For example, what happens when a state road crosses a county road?) So the breakdown could change.

Breanne Gilpatrick, Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 5:56pm]


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