Todd Gardenhire gets chilly reception on traffic camera ban from Senate Transportation Committee chairman

A traffic camera monitors the traffic signal on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

NASHVILLE - A proposed ban on the use of traffic cameras by Chattanooga and other Tennessee municipalities glided through a House subcommittee this afternoon.

But the bill's Senate sponsor, Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, got chilly reception from the chairman of the upper chamber's Transportation Committee, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.

"Let me tell you members what's happened on this bill," Tracy said as the bill came up at the end of the committee's allotted time. "[Four] years ago, [House] Chairman Vince Dean and myself, we spent two years working on legislation dealing with red-light cameras. I know one of the chiefs knows how hard we worked for two years.

"We put state parameters on. My personal opinion [is] this is a local issue," Tracy said. "It shouldn't be a state issue. It should be a local issue. We spent two years working on this, changed a lot of things people were talking about, Sen. Gardenhire. Since that time we've had very few complaints in my office."

With the committee's time gone, Tracy said the bill would come up next week.

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for setting me up like that. I appreciate it very much," Gardenhire said, chuckling. "Maybe I can return a favor some day."

Speaking later to reporters, Gardenhire said he doesn't think the delay means his bill is in trouble because the panel ran out of time.

Asked whether he felt a cold wind from Tracy on his bill, Gardener quipped, "That wasn't a cold wind. That was a bucket of cold water" and laughed.

"But," Gardenhire added, "Chairman Tracy mentioned that he and Vince Dean did it. Vince is gone now, as you know. So he's not here and you saw what happened in the House. The House subcommittee passed it a little while a go by a good margin."

He said that "to overcome Chairman Tracy's influence on the committee and argumentative style, it's going to be a pretty tough hill to climb up. But I think I can make my point."

Dean, an East Ridge Republican, was elected Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk last year.