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Legislators want state to keep money from speeding tickets

There’s debate at the Capitol about the way some cities issue speeding tickets — and keep the fine money.

White Bear Lake started the practice 10 years ago, says Tom Scheck of Minnesota Public Radio. Instead of issuing warnings, White Bear cops issue $40 administrative fines for minor traffic stops. The violator pays a much smaller fine than with regular speeding tickets and the city keeps all the money. With regular speeding tickets, a big chunk of the money goes to the state.

Sen. Leo Foley, DFL-Coon Rapids, says that system ignores the law, and he wants to ban cities from issuing administrative fines for traffic violations. He said when cities use local fines, instead of regular speeding tickets, it puts a hole in Minnesota’s budget.

But Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, wants all cities to be able to issue uniform fines for low-level traffic violations. It would be $60, with $40 going to the cities and $20 to the state.

“I think we need to look for consensus to work on what’s already been successful for many of our local municipalities instead of possibly banning a practice that could impact possibly hundreds of our cities,” he said.

The only problem is that a fiscal analysis shows the Hosch bill will cost the state as much as $3 million a year — a difficult thing to swallow in a tough budget year. That’s because police might be more likely to issue a fine than a ticket to low-level speeders, thus cutting the fine revenue going to the state.

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