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House votes to repeal red light cameras in Florida, but unlikely to clear Senate

@JeremySWallace

The Florida House voted overwhelming on Wednesday to block cities and counties from using cameras at intersections to catch red light runners.

But the legislation has almost no chance of becoming law because the Florida Senate has refused to bring up similar legislation.

Still, that did not stop House members from spending more than 40 minutes debating the bill on Wednesday.

“They do not save lives,” Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, said.

Artiles, who sponsored the legislation in the House, said the cameras are part of a “scheme” by cities and counties to pad their budgets and “fleece” citizens.

But supporters of the cameras said they are changing people’s behaviors and forcing them to slow down at yellow lights.

“Red light cameras curtail speed, which kills people in traffic accidents,” said Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights.

In 2010, the state created a law allowing cities and counties to install red light cameras. But Artiles said in some communities - like St. Petersburg - the cameras were so unpopular they have been withdrawn.

His bill, if it became law, would force counties and cities to stop using the cameras by 2019. That would have cost the state at least $65 million annually in revenue it collects from fines. Cities and counties would lose a similar amount annually, according to state economists.

The House voted 83-33 to remove the cameras.

The Senate version of the bill passed out of one committee, but never cleared two others it was required to pass before coming to a full vote of the Senate. The Legislature’s annual session ends of Friday.

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