The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation that would make many reforms to local government speed camera programs. HB 929 was introduced by Dels. James Malone (democrat) and Herb McMillan (republican) and passed the House with a vote of 115 to 20. The bill is the result of work of concerned stakeholders, including MACo, that began in the 2013 Session. The bill was amended by the House Environmental Matters Committee and MACo supported both the bill and the Committee amendments.
The key components of HB 929 address many of the concerns raised about the administration of local speed camera programs and 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
- Requires the Maryland Police Training Commission to compile and make publicly available an annual performance report for each local speed camera program
- 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
- Prohibits a local jurisdiction from issuing citations when placing a camera in a new location until at least 15 calendar days after required signage is installed
- Requires speed camera signage to comply with State Highway Administration standards
- 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
- Clarifies that a duly authorized law enforcement officer must review every issued citation
- Makes other minor clarifications and technical changes
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has heard the cross-file of HB 929, SB 652 which is sponsored by Senator James Robey and a similar bill sponsored by Senator James Brochin (SB 350). MACo supported SB 652 and supported SB 350 with amendments to make the bill identical to SB 652.