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Radar cameras OK'd in metro area

April 07, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Annapolis - The Maryland Senate on Tuesday approved the use of radar cameras to catch speeding drivers in two metro-area counties.

But the proposal is still miles away from becoming law. It needs the approval of the House of Delegates by Monday and then the signature of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, who vetoed a similar bill last year.

This year's plan would allow Montgomery and Prince George's counties to set up the cameras near schools or in neighborhoods where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or lower.

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The system automatically would ticket drivers going at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, argued against the bill on the Senate floor.

"It's just another step toward big government watching you wherever you are," he said. "It scares me where they want to put these cameras next."

The Senate passed the bill 26-16, with Mooney and Sen. John J. Hafer, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, voting no.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, voted in favor of the cameras.

"I do think there's some serious speeding problems within the municipalities that law enforcement simply can't handle," he said.

Munson said he also supported the bill out of courtesy to the lawmakers of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, who asked for the legislation.

Mooney argued that the cameras have statewide implications because people from all over could be subject to the $100 fines.

"It's basically another way to raise taxes on our citizens," he said.

He and other opponents said the mail-order speeding tickets are unfair because they presume drivers are guilty.

Montgomery County expects the speed cameras to generate about $40 million a year, while the cost of setup and personnel would be $20.8 million.

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