BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Tiny towns across Louisiana that get more than half their annual income from speeding citations would be labeled "speed traps" with blinking signs posted to warn drivers, under a proposal heading to the full House for debate.
Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, said if the issue is truly one of public safety, as the towns claim, signs with flashing lights will encourage people to slow down. But he said he's opposed to towns basing their budgets on speeding tickets.
|IND file photo|
|A Washington, La., officer in action on I-49|
The House Transportation Committee voted 9-3 for Pylant's bill (House Bill 961) to require speed trap labeling. The municipalities would have to pay for the signs. If they refuse, their speeding ticket money would be transferred to the state treasury.
"We're just making people aware that this community is generating their revenue to operate off of the (citations). And that's just not the way they ought to be operating," Pylant said.
Opponents of the bill included the Louisiana Municipal Association. Ronnie Harris, executive director of the association, offered to work on discouraging the towns from relying too much on speeding tickets, but said the bill goes too far.
Lawmakers who voted against the measure said while they don't support speed traps, they don't agree with placing "a stigma" on a community.
"The mere labeling of a community as a speed trap is going to have some unintended consequences," said Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia.
Of more than 300 municipalities around Louisiana, Harris said, 15 get more than half their income from speeding citations. A 2007 review from the Legislative Auditor's Office found that the towns of Baskin and Robeline got about 86 percent of their revenue from speeding tickets.
For more on "speed trap" towns, read The IND's June 1, 2011 cover story, "Need for Speed."