1/19/2010Indiana Lawmakers Push Freeway Speed Cameras
Indiana state representatives propose freeway speed camera program after taking thousands in contributions from potential camera vendor.
Lawmakers in Indiana, swayed by the potential budget enhancement that recently convinced California's governor, have introduced legislation that would authorize photo ticketing in the state. House Minority Floor Leader Bill Friend (R-Macy) and state Representative Shelli VanDenburgh (D-Crown Point) last week filed House Bill 1289 to create a so-called work zone freeway speed camera program.
"Revenues for the new fiscal year are way down," Friend wrote on the day he introduced HB 1289. "Since July 1, 2009, the state is $500 million short of projections."
Under Friend's proposal, the state transportation department would lower the speed limit on freeways to 45 MPH, then allow private contractors to issue automated citations worth $300 to $1000 each to drivers who may have missed the speed reduction sign. The tickets could be issued even when no work is being done in the so-called work zone.
In Maryland, a similar program generated 8800 tickets within its first six weeks, which means the program is on track to generate 76,000 citations by year's end. Indiana legislators have also been influenced by the construction zone photo radar program operated by Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) in neighboring Illinois since May 2006.
Over the past few years, ACS has made sure to make its presence equally known in the hallways of Indianapolis. The company lavished $64,500 in campaign donations on various Indiana lawmakers, with the lion's share -- $40,500 -- going to Governor Mitch Daniels (R). The photo ticketing company also gave $2500 to the House Democratic Caucus.
In addition to ACS, the insurance industry stands to make millions if the legislature approves a photo ticketing program that imposes points on the licenses of ticket recipients. Not surprisingly, insurance companies and political action committees numbered among the top contributors to Friend's political campaign account. In a message to constituents last week, Friend denied that industry lobbyists hold sway over the state capital.
"Ultimately, everyone who contacts a legislator is a lobbyist," Friend wrote. "Whether by phone call, e-mail, lunch or dinner, a conversation to influence legislation or issue is lobbying. To think that a lunch, dinner or ticket to a game can buy a vote is in my mind a stretch and I do not believe that it occurs."
A copy of HB 1289 is available in a 140k PDF file at the source link below.