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House Panel Backs Red-Light Camera Repeal In Florida

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The days of red-light cameras in Florida could be numbered.

The House is on a fast track to try to repeal Florida's red-light camera law, with the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voting to back elimination of the devices by July 1, 2021.

It is the only committee that will hear the bill (HB 6001) before the issue moves to the House floor during the 2018 legislative session.

Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who is one of the bill's sponsors, urged members to back the repeal, arguing the cameras are more important to local governments as a revenue source than as a traffic-safety measure. “In my estimation, this is nothing more than taxation by citation,” Ingoglia said.

Sheriff Mike Williams previously announced Jacksonville’s red-light camera program will end by the end of the year. "As we dug into it in, the red light camera industry, that technology is not there yet," Williams told our News4Jax partner in August.

Representatives from the city of Orlando asked lawmakers to reject the repeal, arguing the cameras are improving road safety. “Our main purpose is safety and education,” said Raymond Rodriguez, operation manager for the city's red-light camera program. “We concentrate on the most egregious red-light running.”

The Florida League of Cities said local governments should be allowed to make their own decisions about the cameras under the state's “home rule” policy.

According to a December 2016 survey by the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 59 cities and counties reported using red-light cameras. Motorists cited for red-light camera violations face a $158 fine. Removal of the cameras would result in an annual loss of $77 million for cities and counties and $78 million for the state, according to legislative analysts.

In prior legislative sessions, the House has backed a ban on red-light cameras, but repeal efforts have faltered in the Senate. Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, has filed a repeal bill (SB 176) for the 2018 session, which starts in January.