2/4/2010Missouri: Legislation Would Expand Use of Speed Cameras
Missouri legislators hope to authorize speed cameras while pretending to ban them.
A group of nine Missouri lawmakers are looking to expand the use of speed cameras throughout the state. State House members, led by Representative Michael Corcoran (D-St. Ann), on Tuesday introduced House Bill 1947 which appears on its surface to ban the use of speed cameras when, in fact, it authorizes their use.
Under existing state laws, neither red light cameras nor speed cameras are allowed. According to former Attorney General Jay Nixon, without authorization automated tickets would not hold up in court. Nonetheless, dozens of cities have gambled on running red light camera programs without the protection of state law. So far, St. Ann is the first to experiment with photo radar.
Because such programs are vulnerable to legal challenge, sympathetic lawmakers often introduce legislation on behalf of city officials to eliminate the possibility of court action. Corcoran's legislation is designed to let St. Ann continue to issue speed camera tickets, but it does so in a way that appears to restrict camera use.
"No county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision shall employ the use of automated speed enforcement systems to enforce speeding violations," House Bill 1947 states. "Except such systems may be used in a school zone, construction zone, or work zone."
Corcoran's legislation specifically opens the door for any city to use speed cameras in "school zones" -- even outside of school hours and on weekends -- as well as so-called highway work zones, regardless of whether any workers are actually present. Passage of the legislation would give a green light to dozens of municipalities eager to try their hand at automated speed enforcement.
Tennessee lawmakers in 2008 adopted similar legislation that claimed to restrict the ability to use cameras but actually resulted in a Clarksville city judge dismissing a lawsuit last month on the grounds that the 2008 law had validated, not banned, the use of cameras.
A copy of House Bill 1947 is available in a 15k PDF file at the source link below.