Photo: Action News Jax
Photo: Action News Jax

Georgia House approves bill for automated speed traps in school zones

A proposal to set up automated speed traps in school zones narrowly passed the Georgia House of Representatives Wednesday night.

House Bill 978 by Rep. Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear, elicited passion both for and against during debate on the House floor.

“This is a terrible idea,” said Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth. “Letting cameras manage people,” he said, “is a threshold we’ve never considered before.”

Gov. Nathan Deal said he would reluctantly sign a tax bill. The deal cuts the state income tax and strips Delta Air Lines of a lucrative break. Senate Republicans voted to strip a $50 million jet fuel tax break from the bill. The break was removed after Delta severed ties with the NRA. Deal said he wanted to vote for general cuts and would still seek a tax break for Delta.

Rep. Erica Thomas, D-Austell, offered a swift rebuttal. “What is terrible,” she said, “is that in 2015 we had 373 fatalities in school zones.” She added that there were 11,000 injuries in these zones.

The bill allows cities and counties to hire third party companies to operate speed-detecting cameras, Nimmer said. Speeders would face a civil penalty of $250, and would be unable to renew their car tag if they failed to pay. The citation would have to pass through local law enforcement, and the revenue would support law enforcement, though Nimmer said he was confident that local agreements could allow the money to pay for safety in schools.

The vote for the bill was close, with 94 voting for it and 76 against it.

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