A Sumter Republican is the latest state legislator to take aim at Ridgeland's use of automated speed cameras on Interstate 95.
State Rep. G. Murrell Smith introduced a budget proviso last month to cut state aid to municipalities that use speed cameras.
The proposal instructs the state Treasurer's Office to reduce payments from the state's Local Government Fund to municipalities that issue traffic citations based on "camera-assisted evidence."
The state would reduce funding to those municipalities equal to the amount the municipalities collected in fines and fees from tickets written using the cameras, the proviso stipulates.
Ridgeland is the first -- and so far, only -- municipality in South Carolina to use cameras to ticket speeders. The town deployed the cameras in August to enforce speeding laws along its seven-mile stretch of I-95.
Smith said the cameras' use violates a law passed in June allowing speed or traffic cameras to be used only in emergencies.
"The House passed a law last year that said it was not appropriate for municipalities to use speed cameras," Smith said. "I understand it's a moneymaker and they have their reasons for doing it, but the General Assembly spoke loudly on the use of traffic cameras last year.
"In my opinion, Ridgeland is violating state law."
Town officials have claimed that law applies only to the use of unmanned cameras. Their system uses cameras monitored by a police officer in a nearby RV.
The proviso -- in essence, a one-year budget law -- was adopted last month by the S.C. House Ways and Means Subcommittee in its $5.1 billion appropriations bill.
The bill is scheduled to be debated on the House floor March 14, according to legislative records.
Even if included in the state's budget, the proviso is unlikely to substantially hurt Ridgeland's bottom line.
Ridgeland Mayor Gary Hodges told a Senate subcommittee in January the cameras have netted about $100,000 for the town since being deployed. The town is estimated to receive $58,631 from the state fund this fiscal year, according to data from the Municipal Association of South Carolina.
"We're likely only talking about a cut of thousands of dollars to Ridgeland," Smith said. "I'm sure they make much more than that in ticket revenue, but we have to send a strong statement to municipalities who want to engage in this activity."
Attempts Friday to reach Hodges were unsuccessful.
Smith's proviso marks the second time this year a lawmaker has targeted Ridgeland's cameras. State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, introduced a bill in January banning speeding tickets based in any way on photographic evidence.
Grooms' bill, S336, was approved unanimously Thursday on a second reading in the Senate. It must get a third vote there before advancing to the House for debate, where Smith said he will be among the bill's supporters.
"I look forward to taking that bill on in the House next week," he said.