Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who has served as the District’s lone delegate to Congress since 1991, lashed out at a Republican congressman this week for his plans to propose a bill that would ban the city’s traffic camera system. Hatchet File Photo.
A Republican congressman from Michigan is moving forward with a bill to ban traffic cameras in D.C., which the city’s sole representative in Congress has attacked as an intrusion into local affairs.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. is fighting against the possible legislation by Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., which would ban red light and speed cameras.
“In the District of Columbia, like everywhere else, local traffic laws are written by local elected officials, not members of Congress who are unaccountable to D.C. residents,” Norton said in a release.
“If Representative Bentivolio wants to write local traffic rules, he should resign from Congress and run for local office in Michigan,” she added.
Bentivolio has not yet introduced the bill, but found two co-sponsors, Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., and Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, a spokesman for Norton wrote in an email Thursday.
Norton has railed against his effort as the “anti self-government” bill.
A dozen states have tried to outlaw their speed camera systems, which are used by hundreds of jurisdictions in 24 states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Proponents claim the cameras allow police officers to focus on other crimes, while skeptics argue they can deprive drivers of due process.
A survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earlier this year found that the majority of D.C. residents — 87 percent — supported the use of red-light cameras and 76 percent supported the speed camera system.
Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, told the DCist that the camera system has helped lower traffic fatalities in the city by 73 percent since 2001. Speed and red-light cameras also generated $85 million in revenue during the last fiscal year.
The draft bill comes as home-rule advocates have long fought to obtain a voting representative in Congress or even have the federal government grant the District statehood. Residents voted overwhelmingly in April to give D.C. power to spend its own tax dollars without congressional approval, but lawmakers can still push bills, such as the 2012 effort to ban abortions after 20 weeks, if they do not live in the District.