N.D. Senate kills traffic fines bill
BISMARCK -- The state Senate killed a bill on Monday that would have allowed North Dakota cities to increase traffic fines. House Bill 1278 sought to allow cities to increase fines up to double the state's rate for violations such as speeding and...
BISMARCK -- The state Senate killed a bill on Monday that would have allowed North Dakota cities to increase traffic fines.
House Bill 1278 sought to allow cities to increase fines up to double the state's rate for violations such as speeding and running stoplights.
Bill supporters say the state's current traffic fines are outdated and don't deter drivers from breaking the law. They also say the cost to write and process a ticket and to prosecute a violation exceeds the cost of the fine.
Opponents say the bill is an attempt for cities to raise revenue for their budgets, and a statewide standard should apply rather than leaving rates up to individual cities.
Some lawmakers wanted to amend the bill so any city raising its fines would need to transfer the excess money to the state to deposit in the common schools trust fund.
Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, opposed the amendment, saying cities need the money to support increased costs for enforcement. He pointed to neighboring states that have fines much higher than what North Dakota charges for the same offense.
Sen. Gary Lee, R-Casselton, said putting the extra money in a state account would take away the argument that cities would only increase fines to raise local money.
Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, said the bill wasn't introduced to provide more funding for cities, but to deter lawbreakers.
"Nobody's going to pay the higher fine if you abide by the law," she said.
Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown, said he didn't agree with creating a "patchwork quilt" of fines across the state, with one town having different fines from a neighboring town.
Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said cities should be allowed local control of fines with a range provided by the state.
The bill died on a 13-34 vote.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.