- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2003

RICHMOND A key House committee yesterday approved a bill that would allow local jurisdictions to use red-light cameras.
The House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 12-10 to allow jurisdictions to implement the automated traffic-enforcement program after holding public hearings.
"I spent the whole year working with people so we could get it right and it would pass this time," said Delegate Michele B. McQuigg, Woodbridge Republican and chief sponsor of the bill.
Virginia has allowed large jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Richmond and Norfolk, to use red-light cameras since 1995. Mrs. McQuigg's bill, which she has introduced several times before, would allow smaller jurisdictions such as Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church to use cameras to nab red-light runners.
This year's bill differs from previous versions in that it would not allow red-light cameras to be used solely to generate revenue. This difference, among others, helped changed the minds of members who had voted against the legislation.
"I have been opposed to this in the past, but Michele addressed my concerns, and I realize the people in Northern Virginia really need this bill," said Delegate Terry G. Kilgore, Scott County Republican and a member of the committee.
The bill also would require a police officer to review each infraction before notification is sent so all circumstances are considered.
"Someone who runs a red light when there is snow on the ground [and it would be dangerous to stop short] would likely not receive a notice because that would have been mitigated," said Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, Prince William Republican and a co-sponsor of the bill.
The legislation will go to the full House, where its passage is uncertain. Several lawmakers expressed concern, saying there is a lot of confusion about red-light cameras and photo-radar cameras.
House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford County Republican, said through a spokesman that he is not convinced the cameras are needed and thinks other solutions should be found.
"In some areas not in Virginia where photo-monitoring is in place, localities have actually shortened yellow lights, which caused more traffic accidents," said G. Paul Nardo, an adviser to Mr. Howell.
"Photo red-light cameras is a concept whose time has not yet come," said Delegate John A. "Jack" Rollison III, Prince William County Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee. "D.C. is a perfect example [of what is wrong with this program]. We do not want to create a situation in Virginia like we have in D.C."
D.C. officials have said that revenue is a factor in its automated traffic-enforcement program, which has been marred by erroneous citations.
"Our plan is different," Mrs. McQuigg said. "It makes me so mad when people say that Virginia is not going to become another D.C."

Delegate Robert G. Marshall introduced a bill that would ensure defendants have access to information their accusers plan to use against them in court.
The bill results from a case involving Leesburg lawyer Bruce McLaughlin, who was imprisoned for four years on charges of sexually abusing his four children. Last month, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge overturned an earlier conviction and declared Mr. McLaughlin not guilty.
During his 1998 trial, Mr. McLaughlin was not allowed to see some of the evidence against him information that later was called into question and led to his acquittal.
"Because this information was withheld, he spent four years in jail," said Mr. Marshall, Prince William County Republican. "We can't let that happen again."
Brian DeBose in Washington contributed to this report.


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