ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Even though efforts to ban red light cameras in Florida have been rebuffed in the legislature each of the past three years, one local legislator thinks the timing is right to try again.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, told 10 News of plans to file a proposed repeal of the 2010 Mark Wandall Safety Act, the law that regulates red light cameras (RLC) in Florida, on Wednesday.
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An opponent of automated ticketing, Brandes said recent discoveries about red light cameras - including those exposed by 10 News - could provide him the necessary momentum to get his bill passed.
"I've really just come to believe these are more about padding municipalities' budgets than they are about public safety," said Brandes. "We're seeing everywhere these cameras are, we can find areas of abuse."
Brandes said he doesn't believe the cameras contribute to intersection safety and supporters of the technology are "dishonoring" the legacy of Mark Wandall, the Bradenton man killed by a red light-runner in 2004.
Mark's widow, Melissa, said in May she was concerned RLC critics would use the 10 News investigation in their fight to repeal the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act.
"Lives have been saved. And lives will continue to be saved," she said. "(Drivers) are trying to find any way they can to make excuses."
Brandes' proposed legislation comes after the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) acknowledged the state's yellow light minimums were too short for many drivers and mandated a 0.4-second increase. But many Tampa Bay-area RLC still have illegally-short yellow lights.
And because Brandes anticipates heavy resistance to his RLC-killing bill (a political committee run by future Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-West Palm Beach, received $10,000 from camera company ATS), he is already working on smaller, easier-to-pass backup bills that would address some of his biggest RLC concerns.
If he cannot get a full RLC repeal passed, Brandes expects to push for legislation that would extend yellow lights and eliminate many of the "rolling right" tickets.
Wednesday's bill had a House companion filed by State Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami.
State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, told 10 News he also plans on filing a bill this fall to mandate yellow intervals at RLC intersections.
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