- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Michigan congressman is planning to introduce legislation to ban red light and speed cameras in the District — a move that’s triggered the ire of D.C.’s delegate.

Rep. Kerry L. Bentivolio, Michigan Republican, is drafting a bill called the “Safer Streets Act of 2013,” and its apparent failure to address similar traffic control programs in 24 other jurisdictions has D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton fuming.

“Why didn’t he draft a bill that applies nationwide,” Mrs. Norton said. “Traffic laws here and everywhere else in the U.S. are local safety matters. In the District of Columbia, like everywhere else, local traffic laws are written by local elected officials, not members of Congress who are unaccountable to D.C. residents.”

Matt Chisholm, a spokesman for Mr. Bentivolio, declined to say why the lawmaker is targeting the D.C. programs, and said it wasn’t clear what version of the draft was in Mrs. Norton’s possession.

“The final scope of the bill has yet to be determined,” he said.

Mrs. Norton called it a violation of Mr. Bentivolio’s claim of support for local governments.

“We will fight each and every congressional attack on our right to self-government, especially against congressional bullies who betray their own well-known views on federal interference in local matters by trying to use the big foot of the federal government against our local government,” she said.

Well known for its acid-tongued critique of the District’s automated traffic enforcement system, even AAA Mid-Atlantic officials were skeptical of Mr. Bentivolio’s proposal.

“Beyond question D.C. has the right to control traffic within its boundaries,” Lon Anderson, AAA spokesman, said. “That is without judging the merits of the automatic enforcement systems. We all know there’s certainly room for improvement with automatic enforcement systems.”

The District has more than 70 speed cameras that snap drivers going 11 or more miles more than the posted speed limit. Information provided to AAA indicates that in fiscal 2012, the city raked in $91 million in tickets, compared to the $50 million raised so far in the first four months of fiscal 2013.

About 50 red light cameras are in the District, according to AAA, and their use has resulted in more than 205,000 tickets being issued in the past 2½ years.

Mr. Chisholm said the final version of the bill will be designed to protect people’s rights.