The ever controversial SafeLight/SafeSpeed traffic camera enforcement program in Lafayette Parish could go to the ballot next year for voters to approve or shoot down if legislation filed by a Kenner lawmaker is successful.

The Times-Picayune reports that Senate Bill 85, filed by Republican state Sen. Danny Martiny of Kenner, would bar local governments from collecting civil fines on tickets issued by traffic cameras without first going before voters for approval.

In cities where traffic cameras are already in place, the local governing bodies would have to stop collecting fines until voters get to decide the issue. If approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, The T-P reports that the bill would be effective starting Jan. 1:

Martiny filed a similar bill last year but put it on hold to give New Orleans and other cities a chance to overhaul the ticketing process and fine collections.

He called use of the cameras by New Orleans and other cities “a big money grab” and said no changes have been made.

Martiny last year argued that the camera system gives the ticketed driver little chance to appeal or makes it inconvenient to do so. He said the system assumes the driver is guilty and not innocent until proven guilty in a court hearing.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Local and Municipal Affairs, which will address the proposal during the Legislative session that begins March 12.

Read the full story here.

For more on traffic cameras in Lafayette, check out The Independent’s August 2011 cover story, “A Fine Mess.”

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