1/25/2006Maryland Legislature Overrides Veto, Implements Speed Cameras
The Maryland General Assembly has voted to implement speed cameras in the state over the objection of Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
Speed cameras could soon spread across Maryland following the state General Assembly's final decision to implement a photo ticket program in Montgomery County. The Senate voted 31-16 today and the House 89-45 on Tuesday to override last year's veto of the idea by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). Seven House Republicans abandoned their governor to secure enactment of the legislation. Most cited a deference to "local control."
Although the bill only allows cameras in the Washington, DC suburb of Montgomery County, legislators are already poised to expand it to every part of the state. "I don't mind riding on Montgomery County's coattails," said Delegate Emmett Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County). "I will introduce my bill the same as Montgomery County's."
Opponents cited constitutional concerns. "It's a violation of Article 21 in the Maryland Declaration of Rights, which grants the citizens of this state the right to face their accuser," said Delegate Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County).
Lobbyist David Carroll of Capitol Strategies pushed the legislation on behalf of American Traffic Solutions, which stands to make millions from the program, along with Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D). According to the Maryland General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services, the state and especially Montgomery County stand to profit significantly.
"Special fund revenues could increase significantly from additional fines paid to the District Court," the official legislative Fiscal and Policy Note explains. "Based on local experience with red light camera programs, revenues would exceed expenditures for speed monitoring systems by a significant amount."
The legislation becomes effective in 30 days, allowing cameras to issue $40 fines on roads with a speed limit of 35 MPH or less. The legislation removes the presumption that a cited car owner is innocent until proven guilty with a much lower "preponderance of the evidence" standard. It also allows the Maryland Vehicle Administration to suspend the license of any state resident who fails to pay a fine sent through the mail.
Read the full text of the red light camera legislation (131k PDF format).