- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — The Senate passed legislation yesterday to restore the use of cameras to catch traffic light scofflaws in several Northern Virginia localities and Virginia Beach.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where a subcommittee last year rejected legislation to revive local “photo-red” pilot projects that expired on July 1, 2005. Several other lawmakers have introduced bills allowing limited or statewide use of photo-red technology.

Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, Fairfax County Republican, told colleagues that her bill would allow photo-red enforcement only in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church and Virginia Beach and the town of Vienna.

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 argue that the use of cameras is an invasion of privacy.

Without debate, the Senate voted 31-8 to pass the bill.

m Club bill

Legislation requiring students at public high schools to obtain a parent’s written permission before joining an extracurricular club failed on a tie vote in committee yesterday.

Despite the House Education Committee’s 9-9 vote on Delegate Matthew Lohr’s bill, the issue is not dead. A similar bill introduced by another lawmaker has been referred to the same committee, which was missing four members when Mr. Lohr’s bill was rejected.

Homosexual rights advocates have said the legislation is part of a campaign by conservative activists to undermine homosexual-straight alliances — clubs formed to encourage tolerance and provide a safe haven for homosexual students to discuss their problems.

But Mr. Lohr, Harrisonburg Republican, said he merely wants to ensure that parents have a say in their children’s extracurricular activities.

The bill called for local school boards to notify parents about a club’s mission, activities and dues or other financial requirements. Parents would have to sign a permission slip before their child could join.

m Inaugural surpluses

The House of Delegates passed a bill yesterday barring newly elected statewide officeholders from using surplus inaugural funds for political purposes.

The vote on Delegate William H. Fralin Jr.’s bill was 64-33. There was no debate.

The legislation would require future Virginia governors, lieutenant governors and attorneys general to either return leftover inaugural money to the donors or give it to charity.

Current law does not restrict how officials use the excess cash, which often is funneled to political action committees or spent on campaign expenses.

Mr. Fralin, Roanoke Republican, has said money intended to finance the dinners, balls and receptions celebrating the start of a new administration should not be spent on political causes the donors might not support.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

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