Red Light Repeal on Front Burner

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Efforts to repeal red light cameras will be on the front burner when state lawmakers begin their annual legislative session next week, and this year's effort to end the cameras has powerful friends.

Florida's two most powerful lawmakers, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, both support ending red light cameras. But their power has limits.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, Senate President. I don't think that the votes are there to do a complete repeal..."

One of the reasons repeal is likely doomed this year is inconclusive data. A recent legislative report found there were 1186 more crashes at red light intersections after the cameras went up, but 18 fewer people died.

Perhaps an even bigger obstacle to repeal: The cameras produced 118 million in revenue last year, split almost evenly between the state and local governments. "I think that there are a couple proposals that would maintain red light cameras to save lives but eliminate red light cameras as a way to either enrich government or enrich some out-of-state vendors."

Casey Cook, of the Florida League of Cities, is on the defensive, asking lawmakers to stand down. "Red light cameras save lives, we believe that they stop dangerous T-bone collisions, and they make our streets safer."

Last year lawmakers extended the time to pay the $158 fine and they created an appeal process.

Cook says the changes are only a few months old and need time to work. "We haven't had enough time yet to study those changes yet to see if they were effective or not."

While the ticket producing cameras may not be doomed this year, local governments could be forced to report data, not all do.

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