Beaufort News

Ridgeland speed camera ban bill heads to governor's desk after winning state Senate OK

A bill banning Ridgeland's use of speed cameras on Interstate 95 is on its way to Gov. Nikki Haley for her signature after being approved Tuesday night by the S.C. Senate.

The Senate voted 32-0 to approve a House amendment to the bill, which was introduced earlier this year by state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, to ban the cameras and speeding tickets based on photographic evidence.

Grooms touted the bill's passage as "a hard-fought win for liberty, and a well-deserved loss for Big Brother."

"Good riddance to what was nothing more than a small-town money grab and a menace to motorists," Grooms said in a statement.

Haley plans to sign the bill, according to her spokesman, Rob Godfrey.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Ridgeland Mayor Gary Hodges were unsuccessful.

There was some doubt that the bill would be considered again this year after a last-minute amendment by state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, knocked the bill off the calendar on the last day of the regular legislative session earlier this month.

The Senate opted to carry the bill over to a special legislative session created to hash out the state budget and tackle issues related to political redistricting. That session began Tuesday.

Grooms' bill was the second time in less than a year that state lawmakers attempted to shutdown Ridgeland's traffic camera program, which was launched by the town in August. About a year ago, the legislature enacted a law that bans speed or traffic cameras except in emergencies.

Ridgeland officials claimed the law applies only to unmanned cameras. The town's system is attended remotely by a police officer in a nearby RV. The system was put in place after the town struck a five-year deal with iTraffic, a Ridgeland based company.