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March 31, 2009

Speed cameras everywhere in Maryland?

Speed cameras could be coming to many parts of Maryland under a plan that surfaced in the state Senate this morning.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has been seeking approval of statewide speed cameras, expanding their presence beyond just Montgomery County, where they are now.

The proposal appeared all but dead in the Senate, where a committee approved a watered-down version allowing the cameras just in highway work zones. But in an unexpected move, the proposal gained new life thanks to a change proposed by Sen. James Robey, a former Howard County police chief and Democratic county executive, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Julie Bykowicz.

Robey offered an amendment to authorize cameras within a half-mile radius of all schools, which would potentially put them in huge swaths of the state’s urban and suburban areas. Robey's amendment was approved by a wide majority, and the plan received preliminary approval on second reading. (Final Senate approval to come later this week.)

The House of Delegates appears willing to follow suit. House leaders said they have been waiting for the Senate to act, since that’s where a speed camera bill died during the final hours of last year’s session.

The final plan will emerge over the next several days, but its chances look good.

Speed cameras automatically capture a license plate number of a car going above the speed limit. The car’s owner receives a citation for a set amount, regardless of the speed. The penalties are not a moving violation, and no points are accumulated on licenses. Critics call the cameras an unwarranted government intrusion and little more than a means to generate money. Proponents tout the safety features. Senators have place income limits on the cameras to address concerns that local governments will use them as a major revenue source.

Posted by David Nitkin at 12:46 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Comments

Driven purely by Annapolis's insatiable need for more money!

What a horrible idea. A money making scheme being portrayed as a public safety issue. They may as well just send every driver a bill because no one drives the speed limit. The biggest joke is the flat fee for every speeder. That shows it's just a money maker. I don't think someone should be driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, but to charge them the same amount as someone going 35 mph is a complete joke. There should be 10-15 mph grace area with maybe a warning so people are made aware of their speeding. Then there should be fines and points attached to overspeeding.

Although speed limits are important, it's always nice to allow a reasonable person's discretion to actually assign a ticket. Factors like time of day, weather, and previous violations could all determine the punishment. Cameras take away this discretion and automatically ticket for exceeding whatever the computerized limits are. True, no court or points are involved, but for people that don't make much money, a fine is still very significant.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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