- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

ANNAPOLIS The chairman of a key Senate committee yesterday denounced a measure to bring speed-monitoring cameras to Maryland as "nothing more than another tax," and its members said the bill probably will not even go to a vote.
Should Sen. Walter M. Baker bring the bill to a vote before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, it is likely to be killed. Committee members have shown scant suport for radar cameras.
Pushing the program are chief executives of Montgomery and Howard counties and Baltimore city, where red-light cameras are generating millions of dollars for local governments and vendors who receive a share of the fines.
"That's what this bill is all about: raising money," said Mr. Baker, Upper Eastern Shore Democrat. "Bills should be penal; they should not be tax-raising measures."
Local governments strapped for cash also see savings in photo-enforcement programs.
Gaithersburg and Rockville want to be part of a pilot speed-monitoring camera program that would be created under a similar proposal being revamped in the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, said Sen. Jennie M. Forehand, a Montgomery County Democrat sponsoring the Senate bill.
Howard County Police Chief G. Wayne Livesay said he doesn't have and couldn't afford enough officers to catch speeders in his county and that cameras are valuable and cheaper than adding more police.
Howard County home to an automated enforcement processing center for Affiliated Computer Services, the vendor that runs most of the red-light camera programs for 16 Maryland jurisdictions also would like to be part of a pilot program, Chief Livesay said.
But Mr. Baker said substituting radar cameras could encourage some drivers to take a calculated risk to speed if they can afford fines for camera-generated citations, which do not count against a driver's record or insurance rates.
AAA Mid-Atlantic lobbyist Mahlon "Lon" Anderson urged the committee to prohibit contractors who run the programs from exacting a "bounty" on each citation issued, as is the case in the District and in various Maryland jurisdictions.
Yet AAA Mid-Atlantic supports the measure because its polls show that aggressive drivers are a major concern among its members, he said.
"But we're very concerned that this doesn't become a 'gotcha' game for greenbacks," Mr. Anderson said. "It's very easy to underpost a speed on a road, and it becomes a motorist tax that has nothing to do with safety."
The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association also supports the bill.
Sen. George W. Della Jr., Baltimore Democrat, said "automated justice isn't justice at all."
Mr. Della is sponsoring a bill that would require all yellow lights to last at least four seconds at intersections where red-light cameras are in use, which is not the case in Baltimore and at some Montgomery County intersections.
Meanwhile, an Eastern Shore delegate has introduced a bill that would add an additional $20 to red-light camera tickets. The $20 would go to a state fund that helps support fire departments and designated hospital trauma centers.

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