12/24/2006Texas Committee Chairman Seeks to Deny Camera Cash
The Texas state Senate Transportation Chairman wants to take away the profit from red light and speed cameras.
Efforts by Texas legislators to ban red light cameras and speed cameras last session narrowly failed to become law despite overwhelming opposition to the devices in the state House. Now a powerful Senate committee chairman has a new tactic that would strike at the heart of the automated ticketing machines that the legislature had consistently refused to authorize over several sessions.
State Senator John J. Carona (R-Dallas), head of the Transportation and Homeland Security panel, introduced a bill last month that would force all revenue collected by a photo enforcement device to be deposited into a state fund for trauma facilities and emergency medical services.
The measure faces stiff opposition from cities that claim their goal with photo enforcement is safety while budgeting to spend the millions generated by the ticketing programs.
Article Excerpt:By: Carona S.B. No. 125
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to the deposit of revenue collected from certain traffic penalties in the designated trauma facility and emergency medical services account.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter D, Chapter 542, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 542.405 to read as follows:
Sec. 542.405. DEPOSIT OF REVENUE FROM CERTAIN TRAFFIC PENALTIES IN DESIGNATED TRAUMA FACILITY AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL
SERVICES ACCOUNT. (a) In this section, "photographic traffic signal enforcement system" means a system that:
(1) consists of a camera system and vehicle sensor installed to exclusively work in conjunction with an electrically operated traffic-control signal;
(2) is capable of producing one or more recorded photographic or digital images that depict the license plate attached to the front or the rear of a motor vehicle that is not operated in compliance with the instructions of the traffic-control signal; and
(3) is designed to enforce compliance with the instructions of the traffic-control signal by imposition of a civil or administrative penalty against the owner of the motor vehicle.
(b) This section applies only to a civil or administrative penalty imposed on the owner of a motor vehicle by a local authority that operates or contracts for the operation of a photographic traffic signal enforcement system with respect to a highway under its jurisdiction or that operates or contracts for the operation of any other type of electronic traffic law enforcement system consisting of a camera system that automatically produces one or more recorded photographs or digital images of the license plate on a motor vehicle or the operator of a motor vehicle.
(c) After deducting amounts the local authority is authorized by this section to retain, the local authority shall send all revenue derived from civil or administrative penalties collected by the local authority under this section to the comptroller for deposit to the credit of the designated trauma facility and emergency medical services account established under Section 780.003, Health and Safety Code.
(d) A local authority may retain an amount, not to exceed 50 percent of the penalty, to cover the amounts necessary to:
(1) purchase or lease equipment that is part of or used in connection with the photographic traffic signal enforcement system in the local authority;
(2) install the photographic traffic signal enforcement system at sites in the local authority, including the costs of installing cameras, flashes, computer equipment, loop sensors, detectors, utility lines, data lines, poles and mounts, networking equipment, and associated labor costs;
(3) operate the photographic traffic signal enforcement system in the local authority, including the costs of creating, distributing, and delivering violation notices, any review of violations by trained police officers, the processing of fine payments and collections, and the costs associated with administrative adjudications and appeals; and
(4) maintain the general upkeep and functioning of the photographic traffic signal enforcement system.
(e) The comptroller shall adopt rules to implement and enforce this section.
SECTION 2. Section 780.003(b), Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:
(b) The account is composed of money deposited to the credit of the account under:
(1) Section 780.002;
(2) Section 542.405, Transportation Code; [,] and
(3) the earnings of the account.
SECTION 3. This Act applies to revenue received by a local authority unit of this state from the imposition of a civil or administrative penalty on or after the effective date of this Act, regardless of whether the penalty was imposed before, on, or after the effective date of this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2007.