4/29/2010Missouri Senate Votes To Ban Photo Enforcement
Missouri takes a step toward becoming the sixteenth state to ban automated ticketing machines.
The Missouri state Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. The measure's champion, state Senator Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), had failed in previous efforts to convince his colleagues to end the use of automated ticketing machines. This year, however, he was emboldened by the state supreme court's decision last month to strike down Springfield's photo ticketing as illegal (view opinion). Lembke successfully attached the red light camera prohibition to a broader, 106-page transportation measure that included a number of miscellaneous provisions. The vote was 23 to 8 in favor of the ban.
"No county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision of this state that is authorized to issue a notice of violation for a violation of a state or local traffic law or regulation, shall use or employ an automated photo red light enforcement system at any intersection within its jurisdiction," Lembke's amendment stated.
State Senator Timothy P. Green (D-St. Louis) received unanimous support for his companion amendment addressing speed cameras. Photo radar is rare in Missouri with Charlack, a tiny city of 1431 residents, deploying cameras to trap drivers passing through on Interstate 170.
"Notwithstanding section 304.120 or any other provision of the law to the contrary, no county, city, town, village, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state may use photo radar speed detection to determine compliance with any speed limit imposed by this chapter or by any local ordinance on any state highway," Green's amendment stated.
Green and Lembke were bolstered in their bipartisan effort by rising grassroots concern over the proliferation of automated ticketing machines in Missouri. Activists organized by the Liberty Restoration Project and supported by various Tea Party groups have held several anti-camera protests in Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis (view video). Last year alone, three states -- Maine, Mississippi and Montana -- joined four cities in voting to ban photo enforcement.
The underlying transportation legislation containing the Lembke and Green amendments, House Bill 2111, has been referred to the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. As the measure has already passed the state House, differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed bills must be worked out in a conference committee. The compromise bill would then require a final vote in both chambers before being sent to the governor to be signed into law.