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A traffic camera is used to ticket speeders on Hixson Pike.

NASHVILLE -- A bill banning cities' use of automated traffic cameras is staggering to the House floor in a watered-down version -- and with a new sponsor. 

The abrupt development came after the bill's original sponsor, Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, falsely claimed in the House Finance Subcommittee Tuesday night that Chattanooga's speed cameras on Hixson Pike's infamous "S" curves no longer function and no citations are being issued. 

The claim later prompted an email of protest from Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher in which he said he knows for a fact the cameras are operational. 

That's because Fletcher said he himself got a citation for driving too fast through the deadly stretch of roadway not long ago. 

When the bill came up later in full committee, Holt wasn't there and it had a new sponsor, Rep. John Ragen, R-Oak Ridge. 

"He says he did make an error," Ragen told the panel of Holt. 

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, told the panel that Holt had "apologized" to him. "He said it was an honest mistake and I believe him." 

McCormick said Holt "had been told by someone that the cameras were not there for the past couple of years." 

Five thousand speeding tickets have been issued over time in the area, McCormick said. 

The bill's Senate version, which has been changed, is sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, who has previously said the cameras no longer function, and which city officials disputed more than a month ago to the Times Free Press. 

As amended, the House bill now no longer bans the "S" curves cameras nor speed cameras along similar sharply winding roads as well as those in school zones. It also no longer bans red-light cameras.

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