Rep. Holt burns traffic camera ticket, urges others to do same

State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, has taken to burning traffic cameras tickets and urging others to do the same or at least toss them into the trash. Holt posted a video of his own ticket burning on his Facebook page Wednesday — it’s HERE — and, as of Thursday morning, it had about 259,000 views.

holt

The lawmaker has a lengthy press release on the matter, which includes contentions that cities and traffic camera companies are violating the law. The full release is HERE. An excerpt is below:

Excerpt from Andy Holt press release:
This session, I passed legislation that requires all traffic camera citations to print on them, in large-bold letters, “NON-PAYMENT OF THIS VIOLATION CANNOT HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE, CAR INSURANCE RATES, OR CREDIT REPORT”, which is already state law. Although this is already state law, cities and traffic camera companies have been telling people otherwise. Traffic camera companies have been threating legal and financial action against thousands of Tennessee citizens for years. In fact, to this very day, the Mayor of McKenzie, Tennessee takes to the local paper and regularly tells people that if they don’t pay the tickets, then the city will take them to court and the court will report the debt on their credit report. Well, it would be illegal for the city of McKenzie to do that, so yet again, more coercion and empty threats. It’s important to know that not one of those threats are actually credible. Therefore, I’m sure you can see why I wanted to ensure that the false threats were stopped by forcing these citations to have that disclaimer on them.

When you introduce a bill in the State of Tennessee, state analysts will look over the bill to determine the costs of implementing such legislation. Their report is what is referred to as a “fiscal note”. These analysts get their information from state departments like the Department of Health, Education, Transportation and so on. Unfortunately, it has become a standard practice to find creative (fake) ways to put huge fiscal notes on legislative proposals that the establishment finds unsatisfactory. By putting a huge fiscal note on these bills, they typically die a quick and quiet death. It’s sometimes later discovered that the fiscal impact was totally non-existent or way off calculation. I tell you all this to teach you a very important lesson that will help to explain what happened next.

My legislation requiring that all camera citations inform people of the current state law had a massive fiscal note that said cities would lose tens of thousands of dollars in revenue if this disclaimer was printed on them. By putting this fiscal note on my legislation, they effectively admitted that the only way they make so much money is by coercion and lies, and if people were informed of the existing state law, then cities would lose tens of thousands of dollars. I found that to be quite disturbing. But, what’s more interesting is who put the fiscal note on the legislation in the first place. The fiscal review analysts didn’t use state data to come to that figure. They used data from a lobbying group that lobbied to legalize cameras in the first place years ago. A lobbying group that gets paid countless dollars to keep cameras up and operating. So, we’re expected to believe that the same lobbyists that first got cameras put up in the state of Tennessee provided honest data regarding the fiscal implications of legislation that will cost their clients millions of dollars in revenue? Not likely. Regardless, I was able to get the bill passed.

Session has only been out for a few short weeks, and cities and traffic camera companies are already breaking state law again. Instead of printing the disclaimer as state law now requires, Union City in Northwest Tennessee decided to change the disclaimer to say that “PAYMENT IS REQURIED BY LAW. NON-PAYMENT OF THIS VIOLATION CANNOT HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE, CAR INSURANCE RATES, OR CREDIT REPORT.” However, that’s yet another lie. How can payment of a citation be required by law when you were never found guilty of anything? Did you go to court? Did you face your accuser? Did you sign a ticket promising to appear in court if you chose not to pay the fine and admit guilt? Nope. You didn’t. So how can they accuse you of being guilty and legally responsible to pay a fine? They can’t. So, yet again, we see traffic camera companies and cities lying to people and breaking state law by changing the language of the required disclaimer. This type of coercive behavior is exactly why there is so little trust in the American political system today, and those that practice it should be ashamed.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET ONE?

Throw it in the trash. Personally, I prefer to burn mine (video HERE). I’m often told by traffic camera proponents that if people would just follow the law, then they wouldn’t have to worry about getting a traffic camera ticket. Ah, so the people have to follow the law, but the government, as well as the private companies protected by it, can readily violate the law? I don’t think so.

UPDATE: An expanded post, including some critical comments from a police chief, is HERE.