Thursday, January 11, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — Legislation restoring the use of cameras to catch red-light runners in several Northern Virginia localities and Virginia Beach was sent to the Senate floor yesterday.

The Senate Transportation Committee endorsed a bill by Sen. Jeannemarie A. Devolites Davis, Fairfax County Republican, that would revive a traffic-enforcement program that ended when local pilot projects expired on July 1, 2005.

Similar legislation was killed last year by a subcommittee of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. However, Mrs. Devolites Davis said she feels good about the bill’s chances this year because companion legislation in the House has been referred to the House Transportation Committee instead of Militia and Police.

She also cited broad support for using cameras on high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, saying some critics of “photo red” now realize that it would be disingenuous to use photo monitoring to collect tolls but not to enforce traffic signals.

“The reason I brought it back is that I’ve heard secondhand that there may be a change of heart, given the use of the same technology for HOT lanes,” Mrs. Devolites Davis said after the Senate committee’s 12-2 vote.

The legislation would allow photo-red enforcement in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church and Virginia Beach; and the town of Vienna. At least nine other bills allowing limited or statewide use of photo red have been filed.

The photo-monitoring programs take pictures of cars that run lights at certain busy intersections. The license plate number is used to identify the car’s owner, who then gets a ticket in the mail.

Supporters of the technology say it encourages compliance with the law and saves lives by reducing broadside collisions. Critics deride the use of cameras as an invasion of privacy.

• Truth in music

Legislation aimed at making sure audiences know what they are getting when they pay to see a musical group perform advanced yesterday.

Delegate David B. Albo’s bill would make it illegal to advertise a live performance of a musical group unless at least one member of the original group appears with the performers or the group owns a federal trademark to the group name.

“If you were never in the Drifters when they recorded an album and you’re running around advertising ‘Pay $35 to come see the Drifters,’ then you’re ripping every single person off at that show because you were never in the Drifters,” said Mr. Albo, Fairfax County Republican.

It would be OK to bill performers as a tribute group, according to the measure, which passed out of the House Commerce and Labor Committee on a 20-1 vote and likely faces a House vote next week.

The legislation, versions of which have been passed in seven states and are being considered in at least eight others, originally was created to protect the doo-wop groups of the 1950s and ‘60s.

Because many of their members have died or quit performing and many are not well-known, entertainers simply adopt those group names and begin touring, Mr. Albo said.

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