Bill banning traffic cameras gets House sub OK, ‘bucket of cold water’ in Senate

A proposed ban on the use of traffic cameras in Tennessee won easy approval in a House subcommittee Tuesday, but got a chilly reception in the Senate Transportation Committee, reports the Times-Free Press.

Sponsor Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, expressed confidence he can overcome the announced opposition of committee Chairman Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, to the bill (SB1128).

“Let me tell you members what’s happened on this bill,” Tracy said as the bill came up at the end of the committee’s allotted time. “[Four] years ago, [House] Chairman Vince Dean and myself, we spent two years working on legislation dealing with red-light cameras. I know one of the chiefs knows how hard we worked for two years.

“We put state parameters on. My personal opinion [is] this is a local issue,” Tracy said. “It shouldn’t be a state issue. It should be a local issue. We spent two years working on this, changed a lot of things people were talking about, Sen. Gardenhire. Since that time we’ve had very few complaints in my office.”

With the committee’s time gone, Tracy said the bill would come up next week.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for setting me up like that. I appreciate it very much,” Gardenhire said, chuckling. “Maybe I can return a favor some day.”

…Asked (later) whether he felt a cold wind from Tracy on his bill, Gardener quipped, “That wasn’t a cold wind. That was a bucket of cold water” and laughed.

“But,” Gardenhire added, “Chairman Tracy mentioned that he and Vince Dean did it. Vince is gone now, as you know. So he’s not here and you saw what happened in the House. The House subcommittee passed it a little while a go by a good margin.”

He said that “to overcome Chairman Tracy’s influence on the committee and argumentative style, it’s going to be a pretty tough hill to climb up. But I think I can make my point.”