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2/14/2008
New Mexico Senate Strikes Speed Camera Profit
Photo enforcement could end in New Mexico after legislation eliminating ticket profit passes the state Senate.

Senator Michael S. SanchezThe New Mexico Senate launched a direct attack on Albuquerque's speed camera and red light camera program this week. The chamber voted 35-1 to approve a measure that cuts all automated ticket fines in the city to $75 and mandates that the profit be distributed to the state courts. Until recently, Albuquerque's automated ticket fines reached as high as $400 each which helped generate more than $11.7 million in revenue.

Senator Michael S. Sanchez (D-Valencia) based his legislation on a concept that he had successfully guided through the legislature last year only to be blocked by Governor Bill Richardson's veto pen. As a favor to fellow Democrat Mayor Marty Chavez, Richardson agreed to the veto in return for a promise of lower fines. The governor also implied that eliminating the profit eliminates the program.

"By diverting money to the state, this bill would have had the effect of killing Albuquerque's program," Richardson wrote in his veto message (read message).

When Chavez failed to live up to his end of the bargain, Richardson signaled his intention to sign new profit limitation legislation. This legislation would also mandate an annual state audit of Albuquerque's red light and speed camera budget. The bill is currently under consideration in the state House.

Article Excerpt:
SENATE BILL 442
48th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2008
INTRODUCED BY Michael S. Sanchez

AN ACT RELATING TO TRAFFIC OFFENSES; LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF CERTAIN FINES AND FEES IMPOSED BY MUNICIPALITIES FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES; CREATING THE METROPOLITAN COURT BOND GUARANTEE FUND; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR STATEWIDE EFFORTS TO PREVENT OR REDUCE INCIDENTS OF DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:

Section 1. Section 3-18-17 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1965, Chapter 300, Section 14-17-14) is amended to read:

"3-18-17. NUISANCES AND OFFENSES--REGULATION OR PROHIBITION.--A municipality, including a home rule municipality that has adopted a charter pursuant to Article 10, Section 6 of the constitution of New Mexico, may by ordinance:

A. define a nuisance, abate a nuisance and impose penalties upon a person who creates or allows a nuisance to exist; provided that penalties or fines and costs or fees imposed by an ordinance for failure to obey a traffic sign or signal, including a red light violation, or for a speeding offense or violation, shall be subject to the following criteria:

(1) the total amount of assessed fines, fees and costs shall not exceed seventy-five dollars ($75.00);

(2) the total amount assessed in fines, fees and costs by the municipality shall be distributed to the administrative office of the courts, of which ten percent of the total amount assessed shall be credited to DWI drug court programs and ninety percent of the total amount assessed shall be transferred to the New Mexico finance authority for deposit into the metropolitan court bond guarantee fund; and

(3) in fiscal year 2009, and annually thereafter, the municipality shall cause an audit of the program to be conducted by the state auditor or an independent auditor selected by the state auditor;
...

Section 2. A new section of the New Mexico Finance Authority Act is enacted to read:

"[NEW MATERIAL] METROPOLITAN COURT BOND GUARANTEE FUND.--

A. The "metropolitan court bond guarantee fund" is created in the authority. The fund is comprised of appropriations, donations, transfers pursuant to Section 3-18-17 NMSA 1978 and money earned from investment of the fund and otherwise accruing to the fund. Money in the fund is appropriated to the authority as a credit enhancement to the distributions from the court facilities fund in order to guarantee and secure the payment of principal, interest, premiums and expenses on bonds issued pursuant to Section 34-9-16 NMSA 1978 and Laws 2000, Chapter 5, Section 2. Balances remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert. The authority shall administer the fund, and money from the fund may be drawn only on warrants signed by the chief executive officer of the authority pursuant to vouchers signed by the chief executive officer.

B. Before each due date for payments of principal, interest, premiums or expenses on bonds issued pursuant to Section 34-9-16 NMSA 1978 and Laws 2000, Chapter 5, Section 2, the authority shall determine if the distributions from the court facilities fund will be sufficient to meet the amount due. If the authority determines that distributions from the court facilities fund are not sufficient to meet the total amount due, any insufficient amount shall be paid immediately from the metropolitan court bond guarantee fund. After each due date for a payment on the bonds, the authority shall determine the amount necessary to reserve in the metropolitan court bond guarantee fund as security for future payments and transfer any balance, above the amount reserved, to the traffic safety bureau of the department of transportation. The amounts transferred are appropriated to the bureau for expenditure on statewide efforts to prevent or reduce incidents of driving while intoxicated.

C. Upon payment of all principal, interest, premiums and expenses on bonds guaranteed and secured by amounts in the metropolitan court bond guarantee fund, the authority shall certify to the administrative office of the courts that all obligations for bonds have been fully discharged. Upon the certification, the director of the administrative office of the courts shall cease transferring amounts to the metropolitan court bond guarantee fund and transfer those amounts to the traffic safety bureau of the department of transportation. Such amounts are appropriated to the bureau for the purposes specified in Subsection B of this section."

Section 3. TEMPORARY PROVISION--APPLICABILITY.--The provisions of this act apply prospectively to all municipal ordinances enacted before or after the effective date of the provisions of this act.

Section 4. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2008.



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