ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Maryland Senate did a U-turn Thursday morning on speed camera legislation by approving it after reconsidering an earlier vote to reject the bill.
The measure was approved by a vote of 27-20 Thursday, one day after the bill to allow speed-monitoring cameras statewide near schools and highway work zones statewide failed by one vote.
The Senate barely mustered enough votes to limit debate to force a vote after opponents attempted a filibuster.
The bill, which we told you about Wednesday morning, was touted by supporters as an important safety measure and reviled by opponents as an invasion of privacy designed to raise money.
"I understand the people that support this bill. I'm not impugning their motives or their intentions," said Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Frederick. "They may well believe this is for public safety. I do not believe that. I do not believe the statistics show that. I do believe it's a cash cow for local governments."
Tickets sent in the mail would fine violators $40 for driving at least 12 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Supporters, however, said the proposal was limited to places to protect vulnerable residents.
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"All you have to do to avoid getting a ticket from a speed camera is to go the speed limit," Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, said. "In fact, you don't even have to go the speed limit. You can go 10 miles above the speed limit."
Proponents also pointed out that most of the money goes toward increasing pedestrian or public safety projects.
In the city of Rockville, which has cameras, the number of people going more than 10 miles an hour over the speed limit dropped by 70 percent, Frosh noted.
"This stuff works," Frosh said. "It makes kids safer, it makes laborers safer," Frosh said.
But E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, describes it as "the biggest invasion of our citizens' private lives on a mass scale that we've ever done," and he quoted from George Orwell's "1984" to point out privacy issues.
Last year, a similar bill that had Gov. Martin O'Malley's backing failed after the Senate and House of Delegates couldn't reconcile differences in the legislation.
Read Senate Bill 277: http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/SB0277.htm