Red light as highlight County lawmakers focused on state issues, such as cameras at traffic signals.

April 10, 1997

UNLIKE LAST YEAR, Howard County's delegation to the General Assembly carried no major pieces of legislation to Annapolis in a year when debate centered on school funding for Baltimore, a tax cut and "Smart Growth."

But county legislators played a strong supporting role in passing a bill that could make intersections safer in Maryland. The measure to allow electronic cameras to record red-light violations originated in Howard, where the technology already has been tried, and was promoted by the delegation.

The new law allows local jurisdictions to place cameras at intersections to record motorists who violate red lights. The devices will snap pictures of license tags. Fines will be imposed, like parking tickets, on owners of autos caught in violation, not necessarily the drivers.

Credit goes to Sgt. Glenn Hansen, head of the Howard County Police Department's research and planning, whose presentations built a persuasive case for cameras at red lights. Jurisdictions now have more ammunition to deter violations that caused more than 3,500 collisions, killed 34 people and injured 4,256 others in 1995. The endorsement of County Executive Charles I. Ecker also was invaluable.

The county fared well in local aid, getting 7.3 percent more than it received last year, for a total of $113 million. Delegation members hope to receive another $4 million in construction aid to keep two planned middle schools on track in Fulton and Ellicott City's Ilchester area.

Howard County found itself at the center of debate over the administration's "Smart Growth" bill. Supporters of the measure to direct development to existing growth areas cited the western part of the county as an example of uncontrolled sprawl the state should try to avoid. The bill that passed is a far more reasonable approach to development than Howard has taken.

The county's two leading Republicans, House Minority Leader Robert H. Kittleman and Minority Whip Robert L. Flanagan, had a good year. They mustered critical GOP support for the city school reform package and helped push through a phased-in 10 percent income-tax cut. Thought not all they wanted, it was enough to make Mr. Kittleman describe the session as the GOP's "best year since 1921."

Pub Date: 4/10/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.