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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Schenk still sees red over cameras

Jeff Schmucker Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 07:08 PM

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State Rep. Robert Schenck said he will renew his fight against red-light cameras next year — this time taking a two-pronged approach to ending the use of the traffic enforcement devices statewide.

Following his re-election win Tuesday, Schenck said he believes the chances of passing legislation to ban red-light camera enforcement throughout the state is now greater in light of some changing faces in the state Senate.

But if the cameras cannot be banned, he said his goal is to see another bill filed to make it so local municipalities receive no revenue from the cameras.

"If everyone is truly worried and think these cameras are about safety, then fine. But then they shouldn't be worried about the revenue from them," Schenck said. "There are different people on the Senate now, and I think that will make a world of difference."

For the past two years, Schenck has pushed to ban the cameras, arguing the devices are a revenue grab for municipalities.

However, proponents of the cameras say the devices lead drivers in becoming more conscientious and help prevent motorists from speeding through intersections.

In 2010, lawmakers backed a bill that allowed for the cameras statewide, along with an increase in ticket costs to violators from $125 to $158, with the state taking a cut of $83.

The cameras are installed at intersections and typically capture a driver's license plate number and provide video showing the offense — either a driver going through an intersection while the light is red or improperly turning right on red without stopping.

In 2011, Brooksville city council members approved bringing back the traffic cameras after the group had a year earlier opted not to continue with red-light camera enforcement.

Efforts for camera enforcement to be in full swing have been slowed while officials have been waiting for the Florida Department of Transportation to approve all the camera locations.

Since many of the cameras have been installed this year, there has been at least one successful challenge to the tickets in court when traffic court Judge Kurt Hitzemann ruled in October that the images from the cameras fail to show whether the vehicle owner is the driver committing the traffic infraction. (352) 544-5271

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