Last year, two Miami reps pushed a bill banning red light cameras through a committee with some loud public support (thanks in part to a Tampa TV station's investigation showing Florida had helped shorten yellow light times to collect more ticket revenue). But that bill eventually flopped in the full House.
We're still six months out from a new session starting up in Tallahassee, but a Tampa-area senator has already taken up the fight, filing a new bill this week seeking to outlaw the traffic cameras.
"This program was originally sold as being about safety," Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jeff Brandes tells the Herald. "I have come to believe that it's now about revenue."
Brandes, who is a Republican, points out some of the stats that have led burned drivers to argue the cameras are about cash revenue and not driver safety: the cameras ginned up more than $62 million for the state last year.
Last year's House bill failed in part because one of its sponsors had some serious ethical issues. Daphne Campbell was an easy target, between a six-figure IRS tax lien, accusations of Medicare fraud by her company, and conflict-of-interest accusations when it turned out her husband had racked up five red light tickets on their minivan.
Brandes, presumably, won't have those kind of PR problems. But he will face down the legion of lobbyists hired by American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona firm banking big off the cameras.
They've already got 24 lobbyists on the payroll, the Herald reports, armed with the firm's own data that red-light runners have dropped at intersections where the cameras have been installed.
Florida will have to wait until spring's session to find out who wins this round; in the meantime, watch out for those quick yellows.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.