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Bill To Eliminate Philadelphia's Traffic Court Headed To Gov. Corbett's Desk

By: Tony Romeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Philadelphia's Traffic Court will soon be a thing of the past. A spokeswoman says Governor Corbett will sign a bill on its way to his desk that will eliminate the scandal-scarred court.

When the bill that will transfer Traffic Court's functions to Municipal Court passed the House last week, some members of the Philadelphia delegation railed bitterly against it, calling it an insult to the city. But it was a different story on Tuesday when the Senate gave final legislative approval.

"It's sad to make the admission as a Philadelphian that this is a court which is beyond saving," said Philadelphia Democrat Mike Stack.

As the state Senate gave final legislative approval to the bill that will transfer Traffic Court's functions to Municipal Court, the sponsor – Chester Republican Dominic Pileggi, the Senate majority leader – made the case that there is no alternative.

"This court has proven to be immune to all reform efforts. It is past time to finally do away with this institution," said Pileggi.

Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate majority leader, says once the bill is signed, Municipal Court will be empowered to hire hearing officers.

"The hearing officers would hear the case – any testimony that's presented from the person charged with violation, from the police officer – and would make the decision," said Arneson.

Those decisions would be subject to appeal.

Traffic Court, for now, will continue to exist at least in name.

A companion bill that will amend the state constitution to formally eliminate it has passed the House and Senate but must pass both chambers again in the 2015-16 session of the legislature before a statewide referendum can be held.

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