4/24/2015Tennessee Legislature Scales Back Future Speed Cameras
Tennessee lawmakers impose narrow limits on new contracts for fixed speed cameras.
Fewer speed cameras will be installed in the future in Tennessee under rules adopted by the General Assembly on Wednesday. Defenders of automated ticketing in the chamber struck a compromise with opponents that would guarantee continued use of red light cameras and "manned" photo radar vans. The only change that the proposed law makes is that cities will not be allowed to renew contracts after July 1 for fixed speed cameras unless they are in school zones. The bill also carves out an exception for the highly profitable Hixon Pike "S curves" in the city of Chattanooga.
"We don't always get what we want, and that is definitely the case with this," State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) explained on the House floor.
Holt's original bill was a complete ban on red light cameras and speed cameras, but he ran into opposition from state Senator Todd Gardenhire, a Republican who represents Chattanooga, a city that has already budgeted $612,000 in net profit from its photo ticketing program, nearly all of which comes from the speed cameras operated by the Swedish firm Sensys. Gardenhire re-wrote Holt's bill to protect Chattanooga's program in its entirety.
"An unmanned traffic enforcement camera that monitors speed shall not be used to issue a citation to any driver for violating the speed limit on any public road or highway; provided, that this subsection shall not apply to an unmanned traffic enforcement camera within the designated distance of a marked school zone; or on any S-curve of a public road or highway," Senate Bill 1128 states. "This act shall take effect July 1, 2015, the public welfare requiring it and shall apply to contracts entered into or renewed on or after such date."
No speed camera would be immediately removed under the bill. It gives cities until July 1 to adopt new contracts allowing unmanned speed camera use anywhere in their city limits. Once those agreements expire, the devices could no longer be used.
"In S curves and school zones, you would still have the opportunity to renew contracts related to speed cameras," Holt explained. "Otherwise, current contracts on speed cameras will not be infringed upon. At the end of that contract, they will not be allowed to be renewed.
The amended measure was adopted by the state House by a 74 to 16 vote after clearing the state Senate 29 to 1. It becomes law if signed by Governor Bill Haslam (R). A copy of the final bill is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.