MACo Supports Speed Camera Reform Bill

On February 18, MACo joined with county law enforcement personnel, the Maryland Municipal League, and AAA Mid-Atlantic in testifying in support of a speed camera reform bill, HB 929, that was co-sponsored by Delegates James Malone and Herb McMillan.  The bill is a refined version of legislation that was crafted during the 2013 Session by a House Environmental Matters Committee workgroup and further modified over the 2013 interim by key stakeholders, including MACo.

Key components of the bill include:

  • Prohibits a local jurisdiction from making a vendor’s fee contingent on a per-ticket basis on the number of citations issued or paid – existing contracts may continue for no more than 3 years
  • Requires each local jurisdiction with a speed camera program to create an “ombudsman” to respond to citizen questions and concerns and void erroneous violations without a citizen having to go to court
  • Defines “school zone” in State law to mean an area within 1/2 mile of a K-12 school where students are walking or bicycling to school, or being picked up or dropped off and prohibits camera in areas with speed limits of less than 20 MPH.
  • Requires each local jurisdiction with a speed camera program to designate a program administrator to oversee the program and participate in a best practices training course at least once every two years
  • Requires a local jurisdiction’s contract with a speed camera vendor to contain certain penalty and cancellation clauses if the vendor submits a certain percentage of erroneous violations for review or violates the law
  • Requires that the annual calibration of a speed camera be conducted by an independent calibration laboratory that is selected by the local jurisdiction and is unaffiliated with the manufacturer of the speed camera system

From coverage in a February 19 Capital-Gazette article:

Ending per-ticket payment for vendors, McMillan said, will ensure governments run speed-camera programs for safety, not profit.

“That’s like cutting the head of the snake, in my opinion,” he said after the hearing. “When you remove the financial incentive for them to give you a ticket, I think most people are going to recognize there is going to be less likelihood that it’s going to happen.”  …

Leslie Knapp Jr., legal and policy counsel for the Maryland Association of Counties, said six Maryland counties have speed cameras, but he does not foresee others installing them in the near future.

Candace Donoho, director of government relations for the Maryland Municipal League, said McMillan’s legislation would affect cameras around many urban schools, where the speed limits are often under 20 mph. But Donoho said the bill addresses many speed camera problems in Maryland.

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