4/3/2008Louisiana: Proposal Bans Speed Traps, Limits Cameras
Louisiana proposal would limit speed trap revenue to between 10 and 35 percent of a municipal budget. Speed cameras limited to high profit locations.
A Louisiana state lawmaker is taking aim at small towns that pad their local budget with speeding ticket revenue. State Representative Hollis Downs (R-Ruston) introduced House Bill 1050 to restrict the practice. On Monday, his bill was referred to the House Transportation Committee.
"A local law enforcement body shall not write civil or criminal citations for violation of speed limit laws and speed-related ordinances within the boundaries of and the outskirts of the municipality where there is minimal commercial or residential development or local traffic with egress to the highway," Downs' proposed legislation states.
The bill reflects an attempt to reform problems identified in a Louisiana Legislative Auditor report released last June that documented the state's worst small town speed traps. The report identified at least fifteen localities made more than half their revenue from tickets. Towns like Baskin, Georgetown, Lillie and Robeline made more than 85 percent of their general budget revenue from traffic citations. Baskin was the top speed trap with $1719 in per capita speeding ticket revenue (view report). Baton Rouge came in at number eight on the National Motorists Association list of the top-ten biggest speed traps nationwide.
Downs' would accomplish its goal by prohibiting any small town from earning more than 35 percent of its budget from traffic tickets. The state would pocket any excess funds generated by exceeding this cap. Larger towns with between one and three thousand residents could earn twenty percent of their revenue from ticketing. For municipalities with more than 3000 population, only ten percent of revenue can come from traffic cops.
The state auditor would investigate localities accused of cheating. If a jurisdiction is found guilty, the state police would take over all ticketing duties on state and federal highways in the area to deny the locality a large source of revenue. The auditor would then send the locality a bill for the cost of the investigation.
In a move sure to please the for-profit companies that operate speed cameras, the bill would restrict speed cameras either to "high volume" locations or roads with a speed-related accident history. Most photo enforcement devices are already located on high-volume roads designed to generate the maximum amount of revenue.
A full copy of HB1050 is available in a 25k PDF file at the source link below.