Speed camera repeals receive hearing date

You know ’em, you hate ’em. Those inaccurate revenue generators which were placed for dubious purposes of “safety,” speed cameras, will have their repeal discussed in hearings in both the Maryland Senate (February 20, 1 p.m. under Judicial Proceedings) and House of Delegates (March 5, 1 p.m. under Environmental Matters.) We’ll deal with the same committee chairs many of us dealt with Wednesday when the O’Malley gun infringement bill and repeal of last year’s septic bill were discussed, Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Maggie McIntosh.

For all the complaints they receive regarding the ongoing political soap opera in Cecil County, it should be noted that the lead sponsors for SB785 and HB 251 are Senator E.J. Pipkin and Delegate Michael Smigiel, respectively. Other Senate co-sponsors are Richard Colburn and Nancy Jacobs, while a bipartisan group of 12 Delegates co-sponsors the House version. (It’s bipartisan due to Delegate Nathaniel Oaks of Baltimore City.)

One group happy to see these bills get to the hearing stage is the Maryland Liberty Caucus, and they’re targeting Delegate McIntosh’s district with literature to make sure the message gets across. I would imagine they will make an attempt to do the same with Senator Frosh’s district, although Montgomery County isn’t as well-known of a speed camera haven as Baltimore City is.

The part which interests me the most will be finding out who testifies at the hearings. Obviously the companies which operate the speed cameras will have representatives there since it’s their golden goose being threatened. The question to me is how much law enforcement backing these will get, because it makes their jobs easier – unless they have to clean up the accidents from people suddenly slowing down to avoid the fines. (Of course, then they write the citation for not maintaining assured clear distance.) Of course, the local jurisdictions will be testifying against the repeal bill as well because it’s a revenue stream they’d like to continue.

But if it were really about safety, there would be a physical police presence at a work site or school zone. Not only could they actually witness the speed of a car, they could also check for erratic driving and other offenses. All a speed camera does is track someone for speeding, at least in theory, even hours after school has let out or during school holidays when no children are present. (To me that’s proof it’s all about the Benjamins, or in the case of these cameras, the pair of Jacksons.)

And while I doubt the repeal would pass, the record will be clear as to who stands for the people and who stands for Big Brother. And it would be fun to watch the city crews remove all the cameras they installed – it would be something worth recording with a camera for the ages.

But you wouldn’t have to pay $40.