Thirty-two to zero? That’s what gets me

This release came in last night; I just noticed it:

COLUMBIA, S.C., June 14, 2011 — In a 32-0 vote, the South Carolina Senate today passed a measure halting the use of video cameras in the enforcement of speed limits.  Passage of S.336 came after months of debate in both the House and Senate. The Town of Ridgeland had placed automatic cameras along I-95, issuing thousands of camera-assisted traffic citations in the process.

“This is a hard-fought win for liberty, and a well-deserved loss for Big Brother,” says Senator Larry Grooms, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and author of the bill.  “Good riddance to what was nothing more than a small-town money grab and a menace to motorists.”

The bill now heads to the Governor.


Remember when I wrote about this before? (My headline was, “Everything that’s wrong with the SC Legislature.”) OK, I get it that some people, infected with all this nonsensical fear of Big Brother (and as you know, I love Big Brother, and hope he knows it), would object to the perfectly commonsense idea of using cameras to enforce the speed laws.

I can even see rational objections to the practice. For instance, if the speeder doesn’t get stopped, and doesn’t even see a cop car, there is no immediate deterrent effect. Sure, you can post the fact that the speed is monitored by cameras, but does that work as well. (The obvious presence of police is a more effective deterrent, affecting more drivers, than the actual issuance of tickets.)

But what I have trouble processing is that NO ONE in the Senate would object to this, yet another case of the bullying General Assembly stepping on the throats of local governments. Yeah, I know that once all the discussion has occurred, things tend to pass unanimously in the Senate — which is another thing — but sheesh.

13 thoughts on “Thirty-two to zero? That’s what gets me

  1. Brad

    As you know, I can’t mention Big Brother without making a joke about it (as I did parenthetically above). How can people like Larry Grooms say such things without any sign of irony?

    “…hard-fought win for liberty?” Really? No, Larry. Yorktown was a hard-fought win for liberty. The Battle of Britain was a hard-fought win for liberty.

    This, by contrast, is just silly. Except that it DOES constitute, once again, the state stomping on the liberty of local governments to run their communities as they see fit (yes, the speed limit on the interstate IS a state law, but if you argued this on that basis, I missed it).

  2. Brad

    Tom Davis had proposed to actually study such practices before making a decision, which I thought was a good idea. I wonder if that ever happened. If that played a role in this decision, Sen. Grooms didn’t mention it. No, he just did the ideological sloganeering thing. Which is what gets me as much as the 32-0.

  3. Mark Stewart

    Good for the legislature – whatever their reasons or explanations!

    It was an odious practice; I mean an RV under an overpass with an extension cord snaking up to some power connection in the actual town!

    It is bad enough to see county sheriffs patroling the interstates; local cops have no business there as well. That’s the purpose of the highway patrol, no?

    The state was not stomping on the local municipality; the town was stomping on passersby like a highway bandit of yore. It was a black eye on all of us in this state.

  4. bud

    Let’s calm down everybody and evaluate this like adults. In order to justify or condemn the practice of using cameras to enforce the laws we have to look to motivation. Did the municipality in question do this as a legitimate safety measure? Or was this simply a way of enhancing the municipal coffers at the expense of unwitting travelers? I haven’t seen much evidence either way.

    If just a few of travelers get killed the resident population rate is likely to be very high but not the mileage rate. If there have been a very high number of crashes then by all means a stringent enforcement effort is both justified and it would be unconcionable for the authorities not to act. On the other hand if the number of crashes is not particularly high then the municipal authorities should be held accountable by the general assembly.

    I would suggest to everyone on all sides of this issue to evaluate the facts and don’t go on kneejerk reactions like both Brad and Mark have just done. After all isn’t that the grownup thing to do?

  5. Greg

    Well, Larry, why doesn’t the legislature come off some money and hire some troopers? Why do I have to drive through Hampton and all these other rural counties (surface roads and interstates) at 10-15 mph over the speed limit or have my fat butt run off the roads? Why are you so afraid of enforcing the speed laws? Maybe for the same reason our DUI laws have no teeth, huh?

  6. Brad

    Hey, I’m calm… And as I said, I’d like to know more. Maybe I, too, could have been persuaded to vote for it. And a key point would be whether this was a matter better kept in state, rather than local, hands. For instance — if Sen. Grooms had compared this to states inappropriately trying to take over the quintessentially federal function of regulating immigration, he would have had me.

    But he’s not likely to do that, is he?

    Anyway, if I did vote for it on that basis, I’d want it to be simultaneous with passing a budget that fully funds the Highway Patrol.

  7. Norm Ivey

    I-95 runs through the city of Ridgeland. I would think that they have the responsibility to enforce state laws within their city limits. Isn’t that the argument for passing state laws concerning immigration?

    Of course, the article says they can’t use video cameras. I suppose they could still sit on the side of the road with a radar gun and pull drivers.

  8. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I don’t speed and I wish you all wouldn’t either. Not only do you compromise my safety, you waste gas and further harm our over-heated environment.

    There are so few HP officers any more, I welcome any additional speed enforcement.

    Liberty–harumph. How about my liberty from endangering lawbreakers?

  9. Steven Davis

    Not to mention that these camera stations can be set up with the same technology we’re seeing on patrol cars. They could be used for things like Amber Alerts, wanted criminals, etc… but the ignorant boneheads in the Statehouse think that these things might take a snapshot of them and their girlfriend/boyfriend as they’re speeding off to a weekend at Hilton Head.

  10. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Ah-Steven–you mean they are hiking the Appalachian Trail to Hilton Head?

  11. Nick Nielsen

    It’s all about home rule, Brad. But, you’ll notice, whenever a legislator mentions ‘home rule’, he doesn’t say which home and whose rules.

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