1/11/2012Washington: Statewide Initiative Could Outlaw Traffic Cameras
Language filed in a possible statewide initiative to ban traffic cameras in Washington state.
Red light cameras and speed cameras could disappear from Washington state if initiative guru Tim Eyman decides to bring the issue to voters. Eyman is known for his ability to place anti-tax measures on the statewide ballot that, more often than not, win public support. This year, one option on Eyman's plate is the statewide expansion of his successful city-by-city anti-camera votes.
"We're batting a thousand," Eyman told TheNewspaper in an interview.
In 2010, 71 percent of voters in Eyman's hometown of Mukilteo voted in favor of a ballot measure effectively banning the devices. Last year, the cities of Bellingham, Longview and Monroe followed suit by margins of between 59 and 68 percent. The statewide proposal, entitled "Let the voters decide on red light cameras," allows the use of automated ticketing machines only where residents favor their use. Jurisdictions would have to deactivate existing programs until city officials secure a majority vote.
"For-profit camera surveillance is simply taxation-through-citation," the proposed initiative states. "The people intend to limit the costs of for-profit camera surveillance by requiring the removal of automatic ticketing cameras that have not been approved by voters at an election... Any government and any for-profit company contracted by any government may not install or use automatic ticketing cameras to impose fines from camera surveillance unless such a system is approved by a majority vote of the governing body of the governmental entity and a majority vote of the people at an election."
The idea is to encourage state lawmakers to look at the election results and revise or eliminate the statutes authorizing traffic camera use.
"It illustrates to Olympia: hey, unless you guys tackle this problem, we're just going to take it directly to the voters," Eyman said. "We hope that gives us extra leverage when prodding Olympia to do the right thing."
Most of the cities used the courts in an attempt to deny local voters any right to overturn the decision of their city council through referendum. Eyman suggested the best way to address this problem was to push for an outright ban since it includes the principle of voter approval.
"When you're doing a statewide initiative, you don't have to pull your punches," Eyman explained. "If you're going to redraft the statute, why not get rid of it? We're going to say, unless these things are voter approved, take them all down."
Other possible initiatives include limiting vehicle registration taxes, reaffirming a two-thirds requirement for raising taxes, protecting the public's right to put initiatives on local ballots and a measure supporting government performance audits. Eyman will watch the legislature and speak with supporters around the next several weeks to decide which proposal to bring to voters.