Louisiana has among the highest car insurance rates in the country. It has priced a number of Louisianians out of the market.
The state can deal with this in one of two ways. They can address the issues leading to high insurance rates such as tort reform and fixing the state’s crumbling roads. Or it can increase penalties for not having insurance and it could authorize increasingly Orwellian ways to catch uninsured drivers. Of course the Louisiana Legislature is opting for the second one.
SB 54 would authorize police departments across the state to install special cameras in squad cars that scan the license plates of motor vehicles. The cameras would work the same way red light cameras do. The plates would be run in a database in order to find and catch uninsured motorists and fugitives. The parish DAs would then decide who gets a citation and those would come in the mail.
Tyler Bridges at The Advocate did some digging in who was backing the bill. What he found should be disturbing to anyone who values limited government.
Seems simple enough, no? But Ballay, Johns and the other proponents left a lot unsaid.
They didn’t say the proposed law was the brainchild of a private company that is planning to make a healthy return on a $5 million investment by taking a large cut of each fine paid by uninsured motorists caught by the cameras. Ballay and Johns disclosed the role of the private company only after two committee members asked for a better explanation on the program, since it requires no government expenditure. In an interview, Johns said he didn’t know anything about the company.
The politicians behind the bill also failed to acknowledge that the company has no track record of carrying out the program successfully elsewhere. Committee members were told that North Carolina has implemented a similar system. But an official with North Carolina’s department of motor vehicles told The Advocate the state has no such system.
By citing a 25 percent figure, (Ronnie) Johns, R-Sulphur, overstated the percentage of uninsured motorists in Louisiana. The actual rate is 12-15 percent, said Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. (The Insurance Research Council, an industry-supported group, put the figure at 13.9 percent from two years ago.) Johns said he has heard others around the Legislature cite the 25 percent figure.
Nor did anyone pushing the bill tell senators that Louisiana State Police five years ago rejected a similar proposal, seeing it as a money grab by private interests.
I recommend reading the entire article.
This bill is a crony capitalist money grab designed to benefit a politically connected company. Not to mention a violation of privacy. The vehicles are being scanned as they are being driven. There is no probable cause involved.
This bill needs to be defeated. It was sold with misleading information and some undisclosed facts. Clearly this bill’s proponents don’t want us to find out about them. That alone is why it should die.