State Politics

Bill would kill red-light cameras

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County lawmaker has filed a bill that would prevent local governments from using traffic cameras, calling them “a hidden tax.”

Many local governments — including the city of Bradenton — are installing red-light cameras to boost revenue in the face of falling property values, Republican state Rep. Robert Schenck said this week.

“While public safety is very important to me, I do not believe it is right for local governments to use cameras as a means to increase falling revenue under the guise of public safety,” Schenck said. “I believe this is nothing more than a hidden tax on my constituents and to the citizens of the state of Florida.”

Schenck notes that Hernando County does not use the cameras, but Brooksville, the county seat, had issued more than 5,000 citations as of Jan. 1. The cameras have been up less than a year.

The announcement comes just days after a Miami-Dade County judge ruled that Aventura overstepped state law when it used cameras to fine red-light runners because using the cameras without having a police officer at the scene when the violations occur is invalid.

Bradenton officials said the ruling would have no effect on their use of the cameras.

But the decision has prompted Hillsborough County, Temple Terrace and other communities with red-light cameras to review their policies. In Florida, 26 cities, including Port Richey and Kenneth City, use the technology. Tampa and St. Petersburg are considering the cameras.

State Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, plans to push legislation that would allow use of the cameras by local officials.