10/1/2014Michigan Lawmaker Makes A Second Run At Imposing Speed Cameras
Michigan state senator introduces speed camera company wish list legislation.
Automated ticketing machines are not legal in Michigan, home state of the domestic automobile industry. That could change under legislation introduced last month in the state Senate that would create the ideal environment for private companies such as Xerox, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia to take over traffic enforcement for cash-strapped municipalities and operate without any risk of being challenged.
State Senator Virgil Smith Jr. (D-Detroit) extensively modified language that failed to pass last year in the hopes of reviving photo ticketing this session. The measure follows the lead of Chicago, Illinois and the state of Maryland in limiting the use of speed cameras to "school zones."
The Michigan bill would allow a photo radar unit to be stationed within a half-mile radius of a school or "institution of higher education" In Washington, DC, the idea of a school is taken loosely enough to include placing a speed camera outside the administrative office of the Fashion Institute of Design (view report). The Michigan proposal would allow ticketing year round, not just when school is in session, from 6am to 8pm, the periods of highest commuter traffic.
If enacted, private vendors would mail $110 tickets up to two months after the alleged offense took place. The vendor would take a large share of the fine, and whatever is left -- if any -- would be split according to a precise formula. Fourteen percent would go to the school board, 30 percent to "library purposes" and the rest to the city's general fund.
The proposal even includes a provision designed to thwart residents from circulating a petition to call for a vote on whether the community should use speed cameras. The legislation would give residents just 30 days to collect signatures, a steep hurdle that so far has only been met in Sykesville, Maryland where 61 percent of voters rejected the use of speed cameras.
"Notwithstanding any other state statute or local ordinance or resolution, a challenge to the enactment of an ordinance or adoption of a resolution under this section [authorizing speed cameras] shall be brought no later than 30 days after the passage or adoption of the ordinance or resolution," Senate Bill 1063 states.
The bill exempts speed camera vendors from the requirements of a private investigator, a move designed to head off legal challenges. The bill declares the records submitted by the speed camera vendor as automatically authenticated as prima facie evidence of the guilt of the vehicle owner, preventing any challenge to the foundation of the evidence. The law requires cities to destroy all evidence after 90 days, making it impossible to conduct an after-the-fact audit of accuracy, such as the one in Baltimore, Maryland that found 36 percent of the tickets issued were "questionable."
The proposal has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. A copy of Senate Bill 1063 is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.