11/26/2008Arizona Treasurer Calls Speed Cameras Unconstitutional
Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin wants a court challenge to the statewide speed camera program.
Another top elected official in Arizona has spoken out against photo radar in response to increasingly vocal resistance from the driving public. State Treasurer Dean Martin (R) on Monday wrote to the state's solicitor general instructing her to side with the League of Cities and Towns -- and against himself -- in a lawsuit brought against the state budget. As custodian of the state's monies, Martin is a defendant in the suit which argues that several of the revenue-raising provisions in the $9.9 billion budget adopted in June were unconstitutional.
"The governor and legislature cannot raise taxes or 'log-roll' provisions into the budget that violate the constitution," Martin explained in a statement. "These laws are unconstitutional since they did not receive the 2/3 majority vote of the legislature which is required to raise taxes."
At the direction of Governor Janet Napolitano (D), the budget included an amendment creating a $165 "civil penalty" that would apply to tickets issued by up to 200 speed cameras deployed on freeways throughout the state. The program was designed to generate $165 million in annual revenue and help bring the state's books into balance. Martin singled out this provision, which was adopted without debate in the legislature, as "a tax increase without a 2/3 vote" (view text of photo radar law). Article 9, Section 22 of the state constitution requires a super-majority vote on legislation that creates a net increase in state revenue from "any new state fee or assessment" or tax.
Napolitano has wasted no time in getting her photo radar plan operational. She ordered the first 42 mobile ticketing units stationed every twenty miles on Interstates 10 and 40 over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This means that an out-of-state family, unaware of the new program, could be hit with a total of twenty tickets while traveling with the flow of traffic between California and New Mexico. With court fees, the total cost of the citations would $3700.
A copy of the letter to the Arizona Solicitor General is available in a 75k PDF file at the source link below.