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Bill to bar red light cameras narrowly passes committee, moves to full House

A bill to bar cities and counties from installing cameras at intersections to catch red light runners, narrowly passed its final committee stop in the Florida House and is now heading to the full House.

State Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, said the cameras have become a "backdoor tax" where cities and counties are more interested in collecting traffic fines than promoting public safety.

"It's about money," Artiles said, moments before his bill passed 14-12 in the House Appropriations Committee.

The close vote came just after Melissa Wandall, the widow of a Bradenton man who helped inspire passage of the state's red light camera law in 2010, made an emotional plea for lawmakers to oppose Artiles' bill. She said people like her late husband Mark had to die for the state to agree to allow red light cameras. She said cameras are a key part of an overall effort to make Florida's roads safer.

Wandall said after the vote it was disappointing to see the legislation pass and with the help of State Rep.Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. Wandall lives in Steube's district and his predecessor in the House is former State Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, who sponsored the red light camera law in 2010.

A similar bill in the Florida Senate sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, still has two committees to clear before it can get to a Senate floor vote. In order for the red light camera ban to become law, identical bills must pass both the House and Senate and be allowed by Gov. Rick Scott.