Raleigh, N.C. — The Senate Rules Committee gave approval Wednesday to bring back Fayetteville's red-light cameras, but another bill that would have allowed license plate-scanning cameras in highway medians is apparently dead for the session.
The latter bill, House Bill 348, would have allowed the state Department of Transportation to allow law enforcement officials to install the plate scanners along state highways.
Proponents said it would help law enforcement find getaway cars and vehicles sought in Amber Alert and Silver Alert situations. The cameras would also allow police to check whether license plates match the cars to which they're attached.
But on the Senate floor last week, Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca and other Senate leaders criticized the plan as reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984." The measure was sent back to the Rules Committee.
On Wednesday morning, Apodaca, R-Henderson, announced that the bill "will be resting in the Rules committee throughout the next couple of years."
Another camera measure on the agenda fared much better.
House Bill 1151 would allow Fayetteville to resume using red-light cameras.
Like many other North Carolina cities, Fayetteville shut down its red-light cameras after a 2007 court ruling that 90 percent of the revenue from the resulting tickets had to go to schools under state law. Cities could withhold only 10 percent of the money to pay for the cameras, which would not cover the program's cost.
The new bill offers a workaround by allowing Cumberland County Schools and the city of Fayetteville to enter into an agreement to cover the cost of the camera contract.
Under the legislation, the penalty for running a light would be $75. That fine would increase to $100 in July 2015.
House sponsor Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, said city and county leaders are asking to bring back the cameras to improve traffic safety and prevent accidents.
"In the last several days, we have lost three more citizens," he said.
Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, spoke against the bill, citing a Florida study that found yellow lights were shortened at many camera-controlled intersections, creating a trap for motorists.
"I'm not so sure this is the right thing to do," Jackson said. "I think we're making a bad mistake here."
Floyd responded that North Carolina, unlike Florida, dictates by law the required length for a yellow light at a red-light-camera intersection.
The measure passed the committee easily on a voice vote. It could reach the Senate floor for a vote Wednesday afternoon.