Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Red-light camera debate tangled up in green (UPDATED)

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The fate of a bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, that would set statewide standards for cameras that capture red-light runners may have become ensnarled in the larger effort by lawmakers to find every last possible nickel and dime to balance the state budget.

The House earlier this week passed a version of the the Mark Wandall Safety Act - named after Manatee man killed by a red-light runner - that sends to the state's general revenue fund $30 out of every $150 fine collected from violators. Of the rest, $90 would be earmarked for the local city or county to install, maintain and purchase cameras; and $30 for health care and trauma centers.

The Senate, which may take up the proposal as soon as today, apparently wants the state to take a bigger cut. An amendment added to the Senate version, S.B. 2004, by the Ways and Means Committee specifies that $40 from the fine would go to the state's general revenue fund.

UPDATED, 2 p.m., April 29

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, tells Bradenton Herald reporter Sara Kennedy that Senate consideration of the bill has been postponed, but lawmakers continue to work on the measure. Bennett said he did not think the delay would derail the bill.

Neil Spirtas, vice president of the STOP Red Light Running Coalition of Florida, a nonprofit group that supports the bill, told Kennedy that some senators was want to increase the portion of the fines that would go to state coffers.

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