California law already allows drivers to park at broken meters, but local cities are passing their own ordinances giving the go-ahead to ticket.
Citations vary widely but they're definitely a cash cow.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) wants to take that local authority away and allow drivers to park at a broken meter for the maximum time posted.
"If the cities want to get the revenue from the parking meter, they should get it the correct way, which is making sure that they stay in good repair and making sure that motorists can pay," he said.
Gatto says his own district, Los Angeles, issued more than 17,000 tickets at broken meters in one year.
Opponents like the California Public Parking Association say local jurisdictions develop their own policies regarding broken meters and pay stations. They want those decisions to stay local.
Consumer groups have noted there's no incentive for cities to fix meters when a ticket enables them to get more money.
"Fix your meters and I'll happily pay, but if you're going to just let it sit there and get $52 instead of $1, that's wrong," said driver Diana Seelye.
After winning a key committee vote this week, the full Assembly is expected to take up the measure later this month.