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State Lawmakers Rally to Oppose Photo Enforcement
Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Washington and Virginia legislators consider banning automated ticketing.

Florida state Sen. Rene Garcia
In the face on an onslaught by the insurance and traffic camera lobbyists to convince the public that red light cameras and speed cameras save lives, state lawmakers around the country are fighting back. Representatives in Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Washington and Virginia from both the Democratic and Republican parties have noted the lack of effectiveness of automated ticketing machines in their respective states and have proposed severe restrictions or outright bans on their use. Later today, the Virginia House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee will discuss legislation that places a moratorium on further red light camera deployment in the commonwealth.

"No locality shall implement or expand a traffic light signal violation monitoring system on or after July 1, 2011," House Bill 2327 states.

In an interview, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge) explained that he could have introduced an outright ban but that the moratorium was a measured response more likely to succeed. It was approved in subcommittee last week by a unanimous vote.

In Washington state, however, the moderate approach has been overtaken by an all-out effort to ban cameras. House Public Safety Committee Chairman Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) introduced a measure to force cities that want to install cameras to hold a public referendum, increase yellow time by one second and cut the price of a ticket from $124 to $25 (view bill). The bill was heard in committee Tuesday, but activists with BanCams and the Campaign for Liberty pushed lawmakers Thursday to introduce House Bill 1823, a measure deleting all authorization for red light and speed cameras from the state code. The bill already has 31 co-sponsors, including Hurst.

In Florida, state Senator Rene Garcia (R-Miami Dade) and Representative Richard Corcoran (R-New Port Richey) moved to cancel the controversial red light camera authorization bill that only took effect last July. If Senate Bill 672 or House Bill 4087 is enacted, cameras would have to be removed by next July. In Iowa, the General Assembly has never authorized the use of red light cameras or speed cameras, yet the state supreme court allowed cities to install the devices on their own authority (view decision). A dozen state senators want the legislature to weigh in against the cameras.

"The department or a local authority shall not place or cause to be placed on or adjacent to a highway, or maintain or employ the use of, an automated traffic enforcement system for the enforcement of any provision of this chapter or any local ordinance relating to motor vehicles," Senate File 129 states. "On or before July 1, 2011, a local authority using an automated traffic enforcement system shall discontinue using the system and remove the system equipment. Effective July 1, 2011, all local ordinances authorizing the use of an automated traffic enforcement system are void."

The newest legislative effort comes from Missouri where state Representative Paul Wieland (R-Jefferson) yesterday announced that he and seven co-sponsors had introduced House Bill 406 to ban automated enforcement. The measure is a companion to Senate Bill 16 which serves as an absolute prohibition on using a camera to issue a red light camera citation.

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