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|Sterlington officials oppose 'speed trap' bill|
Sterlington Mayor Vern Breland and members of the town council say they oppose legislation under consideration in the regular legislative session that would stop law enforcement officials in small municipalities from writing traffic violations in certain areas of small towns.
House Bill 1050 by Rep. Hollis Downs of Ruston also would limit the amount of money small municipalities could generate through traffic violations.
Concern with Downs' bill arose Tuesday at a regular meeting of the Sterlington Town Council.
Breland said he had reservations about Downs' legislation because the bill could be interpreted a number of ways. Breland said he would relay his concerns with the bill to area lawmakers. He also said he wanted to offer an alternative bill to Downs'.
Town councilman Ron Hill said he wanted a clarification on what entails a "speed trap," which Downs' legislation discusses.
Downs' bill focuses on municipalities of less than 1,000 population to no more than 3,000 population, which have been accused of conducting so-called "speed traps" to generate revenue for the municipalities.
Downs' legislation specifically prohibits law enforcement officers in small municipalities like Sterlington from writing citations for violations of speed limit laws in areas of minimal development. The bill also prohibits municipalities from retaining certain levels of revenue from speeding tickets.
"I want to be there to address the Legislature when this bill comes up for discussion," Breland said. "I'd like to write an alternative bill that doesn't leave so many variables open for interpretation."
The town council and Sterlington's attorneys agreed that Downs' bill faced an uncertain future in light of strong opposition from small municipalities throughout the state.
"It is my personal opinion that the most obvious flaw in this bill is that there is no definition of what exactly a 'speed trap' is," Hill said. "I'd like to see that term clearly defined."
In other business, the town council amended an ordinance dealing with the appointments of members to the town's Planning and Zoning Committee.
"We've been trying to enforce fairly strict planning and zoning ordinances along Highway 165 and LA 2," said Ladd Williams, councilman and interim Public Affairs Director for the town.
"This committee and the ordinances are there to protect home-owners and business owners," Williams said.
The committee members are Roger Kinnison, president; Pat McDonald, Gerald Walters, George Smelser, Jim York, Larry James, and Bill York.
On another front, the town recently received a donation from Entergy to help fund Delta Project. Delta Project is a program that provides services and assistance for needy citizens.
Council members discussed the need to form a board to head Delta Project.
"We need a cross-section of citizens to determine where there is a need and what direction Delta Project should take," Hill said. "We need citizens from our community to volunteer."
The council would like a diverse group of volunteers to guide the project because private citizens understand the needs of the community.
Melissa Breland, wife of the mayor, volunteered to coordinate the committee. She also will serve as the contact person until a full committee is formed.