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Saturday, April 07, 2007

State poised to take half the Red-Light Camera revenue from Balcones Heights if Texas Senate bill passes






L-R:Cameras installed on Babcock Road & Hillcrest, warning sign

A bill filled by Republican State Senator John Carona would require all cities participating in the red light camera revenue to share half of their collected fines with the state and use the remainder of the revenue to earmark it for safety programs in their own cities.

It would also mandate that the civil fine be capped at $75 per violation. Currently Balcones Heights has levied a fine of $148 per citation. There is no grandfather clause included in the bill which would exempt cities already participating in the program.

Her is part of the text of the bill filled in the State Senate by Senator John Carona.


BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter D, Chapter 542, Transportation Code,
is amended by adding Sections 542.405 and 542.406 to read as
follows:
Sec. 542.405. AMOUNT OF CIVIL PENALTY; LATE PAYMENT
PENALTY. If a local authority enacts an ordinance to enforce
compliance with the instructions of a traffic-control signal by the
imposition of a civil or administrative penalty, the amount of:
(1) the civil or administrative penalty may not exceed
$75; and
(2) a late payment penalty may not exceed $25.
Sec. 542.406. DEPOSIT OF REVENUE FROM CERTAIN TRAFFIC
PENALTIES. (a) In this section, "photographic traffic signal
enforcement system" means a system that:
(1) consists of a camera system and vehicle sensor
installed to exclusively work in conjunction with an electrically
operated traffic-control signal;
(2) is capable of producing one or more recorded
photographic or digital images that depict the license plate
attached to the front or the rear of a motor vehicle that is not
operated in compliance with the instructions of the traffic-control
signal; and
(3) is designed to enforce compliance with the
instructions of the traffic-control signal by imposition of a civil
or administrative penalty against the owner of the motor vehicle.
(b) This section applies only to a civil or administrative
penalty imposed on the owner of a motor vehicle by a local authority
that operates or contracts for the operation of a photographic
traffic signal enforcement system with respect to a highway under
its jurisdiction or that operates or contracts for the operation of
any other type of electronic traffic law enforcement system
consisting of a camera system that automatically produces one or
more recorded photographs or digital images of the license plate on
a motor vehicle or the operator of a motor vehicle.
(c) Not later than the 60th day after the end of a local
authority's fiscal year, after deducting amounts the local
authority is authorized by Subsection (d) to retain, the local
authority shall:
(1) send 50 percent of the revenue derived from civil
or administrative penalties collected by the local authority under
this section to the comptroller for deposit to the credit of the
trauma service area regional advisory council account established
under Section 782.002, Health and Safety Code; and
(2) deposit the remainder of the revenue in a special
account in the local authority's treasury that may be used only to
fund traffic safety programs, including pedestrian safety
programs, public safety programs, intersection improvements, and
traffic enforcement.
(d) A local authority may retain an amount necessary to
cover the costs of:
(1) purchasing or leasing equipment that is part of or
used in connection with the photographic traffic signal enforcement
system in the local authority;
(2) installing the photographic traffic signal
enforcement system at sites in the local authority, including the
costs of installing cameras, flashes, computer equipment, loop
sensors, detectors, utility lines, data lines, poles and mounts,
networking equipment, and associated labor costs;
(3) operating the photographic traffic signal
enforcement system in the local authority, including the costs of
creating, distributing, and delivering violation notices, review
of violations conducted by employees of the local authority, the
processing of fine payments and collections, and the costs
associated with administrative adjudications and appeals; and
(4) maintaining the general upkeep and functioning of
the photographic traffic signal enforcement system.

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