Speed trap bill dies

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2008

FERRIDAY — It may have started in Ferriday, but the legislation to limit how much money a town can generate from ticket writing ended in Baton Rouge Wednesday.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Hollis Downs, of Ruston, found its origin when Downs was pulled over for speeding in Ferriday. The bill would have limited the amount income Ferriday could have derived from tickets to approximately 10 percent of the town’s total income.

The rest of the money collected from ticket writing would have gone to the state treasury.

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The bill died after Downs withdrew it from consideration from the House Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee.

When Downs was pulled over in Ferriday, it was a routine traffic stop, Police Chief Richard Madison said.

“He was stopped by the officer, who did not know him from anyone else when the radar detected he was speeding,” Madison said. “When it was determined he was a representative of the legislature he was not cited.”

The legislative effort was an attempt to take the system and punish Ferriday, Madison said.

“The law is the law, and nobody is above the law, and that is including me and everybody else,” Madison said.

Limiting how much revenue a town could generate from tickets was just a bad idea, Mayor Gene Allen said.

“These rural cities are struggling enough without the legislature trying to find ways to take money away from them,” Allen said.

Mayor-elect Glen McGlothin said his biggest concern with the legislation was that it was directing the funds to the state.

“For a $109 ticket, the town only keeps $35,” McGlothin said. “The indigent defenders get some, the district attorney gets some, the state crime lab gets some, so the town doesn’t keep all of it. All that does is leave the town with no money.”

Tickets are written to keep things safe, Allen said.

“Nobody should be going through these communities at 60 miles per hour when the speed limit is just 35,” Allen said.

McGlothin agreed.

“We’re going to handle it differently than it has been in the past, but we’re going to keep writing tickets in Ferriday because people come speeding through Ferriday.”