11/10/2008Insurance Industry Behind Push for Florida Red Light Cameras
Potential for millions in profit drives insurance to bankroll Florida legislation to authorize red light cameras.
The graduate of an insurance industry "boot camp" is behind efforts to legalize the use of red light cameras in Florida. State Representative Ron Reagan (R-Bradenton) twice attended the Insurance Campaign Institute, a special program designed to place insurance agents in positions of political power that is bankrolled by twenty insurance companies.
"Essentially a political boot camp, the comprehensive political training program covers all facets of the campaign trail, from organization to grassroots strategies, fundraising, direct mail, advertising, media relations, public speaking, debate preparation, campaign research, and use of insurance community strength," the Independent Insurance Agents of America explained in a 2001 press release.
Reagan credits his 2002 Florida House victory to the Insurance Campaign Institute. To repay his industry backers, Reagan introduced the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, a measure giving cities the green light to install red light cameras. Although the bill is portrayed as a response to the tragic death of a constituent in 2003, Reagan's legislation is designed to create millions in new revenue for the insurance industry.
In Arizona, California, Colorado and Illinois certain types of photo tickets carry license points. Insurance companies in turn raise the annual rates of drivers who have these points on their license. In effect, the photo tickets generate free money because the extra premium is charged without the insurance company providing any additional services in return. Nothing in Florida law prevents insurance companies from raising the rates on the recipients of photo tickets in the dozens of unauthorized red light camera programs that have recently popped up around the state.
Reagan, 54, must give up his state House seat at the end of the next session due to term limits. Reagan has made passage of the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act a top priority for his last term in office.