2/18/2011Arizona Senate Committee Approves Photo Radar Ban
Newly elected members in Arizona House and Senate appear willing to outlaw photo enforcement.
Arizona is home to the oldest continuously operating speed camera programs and the US headquarters for the two largest private companies that operate the equipment. It could also be the latest state to join the fifteen jurisdictions that ban automated ticketing machines. The Arizona Senate Government Reform Committee voted 5 to 1 on Wednesday to approve legislation repealing the statutes that have allowed the use of red light cameras and speed cameras in the state. The move represents a significant reversal for a legislature that in the previous session introduced no significant legislation to curtail photo enforcement thanks to a leadership that fully backed the program.
That legislature is no more. Nineteen out of the Senate's 30 members are brand new, elected in November. Half of the House members, 30 out of 60, are serving for the first time. The new head of the Government Reform Committee, state Senator Frank Antenori (R-Vail) is the sponsor of the bill that would repeal all sections of the state code referring to photo ticketing and a bill to inform ticket recipients that existing law does not require them to respond unless properly served.
"They're my bills," Antenori said. "I hate photo radar. I think they infringe on several constitutional principles -- the first is due process.... You have a difficulty with having the ability to face your accuser and ask your accuser questions because the machine doesn't answer questions. You have someone who wasn't present analyzing video that thinks they are acting as a witness of the crime when actually all they're doing is reviewing video... They also seen to be more of a revenue generating tool rather than a safety tool."
The measure is likely to receive consideration on the floor of the full chamber as the new Senate president is Russell Pearce (R-Mesa), a former sheriff's deputy who is on record calling photo radar a money-making enterprise. In the House, many of the freshman members were put in office by Tea Party activists actively opposed to photo radar. The legislature's Tea Party faction is being led by state Representative Michelle Ugenti (R-Fountain Hills), one of the strongest opponents of photo radar. The Campaign for Liberty is hopeful that the majority committed to constitutional principles will carry the day.
"Voters are insisting that the cameras need to come down and legislators have finally heard the message," Shawn Dow with the Campaign told TheNewspaper. "Redflex will have to stop doing business in the Grand Canyon State, but fortunately for them I hear the airlines are running a special right now on one-way tickets back to Australia."
As a backup measure, the committee also approved by a 6 to 0 vote a separate bill, SB1354, that would require a notice be printed on every photo ticket explaining that the recipient does not have to identify the individual in the photo nor "respond to the notice of violation or the uniform traffic ticket and complaint."
A copy of Senate Bill 1352 is available in a 25k PDF file at the source link below.