A Louisiana House panel approved a bill that is intended to discourage small towns from relying on traffic tickets to fill local coffers.
The House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee unanimously voted to advance a bill to the full House targeting communities without home rule charters – in other words, small towns – that have police patrol spots on interstates and issue tickets as a way to generate revenue.
Sponsored by Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, the bill – HB626 – doesn’t prohibit speed traps but it requires that in affected areas where tickets are issued for driving less than 10 mph over the speed limit, revenues from the tickets would be routed to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The commission would spend the money on highway safety programs.
Supporters say the protections are needed to dissuade towns from relying on speeding tickets to generate revenue. Such activities discourage travel and commerce throughout the state, they say.
Others say they want to rein in communities that use their police departments to “pester” nonresident drivers with unreasonable ticketing.
Opponents say if drivers want to avoid getting tickets in so-called “speed traps,” they should slow down.
Owner-operator and OOIDA member Chuck Guintard of Lake Charles, LA, said there are towns in the state that are known for their speed traps. He said “it would be a good thing” if they were to lose some of their incentive to write tickets.
“If you think about it, they don’t write tickets to protect and to serve. It’s to make money. That’s all it’s for,” Guintard told Land Line.
However, Guintard also points out that although some communities need to be reined in, there are others that would be needlessly lumped in and negatively affected by the legislation.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2009, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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