Pa. House OKs bill to dismantle Philly traffic court

    The process of abolishing the Philadelphia Traffic Courtadvanced Wednesday as the state House of Representatives approved a bill to transfer the court’s duties to the Philadelphia Municipal Court.

    The House approved the bill 114-81 after a debate in which Philadelphia lawmakers complained that it is complicated and would take away citizens’ right to elect trafficjudges.The bill requires further Senate action before it can become law.

    “At best, it is a confused bill” that will wind up being challenged in court, predicted Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia.

    Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, the sponsor of the legislation, said the city’straffic court is known as an institution where people are treated differently based on who they are or who they know.

    “That kind of unfairness cannot be tolerated, particularly not in our courtrooms,” said the Delaware County Republican.

    Nine current or former traffic judges are charged in a ticket-fixing scheme that benefited people who are politically connected.

    On Tuesday, the House joined the Senate in supporting a constitutional amendment that would abolish the traffic court.

    If it wins approval from both chambers in the next two-year session, it could be put to a statewide referendum as early as 2015.

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