Speed trap bill advances in Tennessee

| Monday, May 14, 2007

A bill that is intended to thwart speed traps in Tennessee’s smallest towns is moving forward in the state’s House.

Tennessee law requires cities to submit a written request for permission to enforce traffic laws on interstates each year.

The House Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill that would prohibit cities with 5,000 residents or less from enforcing traffic laws on interstates within their city limits.

Sponsored by Rep. Phillip Pinion, D-Union City, the bill also would create an exception for local officers serving with a district-wide drug task force. The only stipulation is that 75 percent of the revenue collected be earmarked for the state’s general fund. Cities would keep the rest.

Advocates say the stipulation would benefit interstate commerce and tourism in the state. Opponents say the ban would threaten public safety. They also say it would hurt local revenues.

Pinion said affected communities shouldn’t be too concerned about enforcement on interstates. The Tennessee Highway Patrol will continue to provide coverage, he said.

The bill – HB1290 – is in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The companion bill – SB348 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee. It would apply the restriction to cities with populations of 10,000 or less.

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