5/6/2014Colorado Legislature Gives In To Lobbyists, Kills Camera Ban
Bill to ban photo radar in Colorado killed by Governor John Hickenlooper.
Lobbyists for municipalities and the photo enforcement industry won a big victory by killing a bill in the Colorado General Assembly that would have prohibited the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. The bill had passed the state Senate by a 21 to 14 vote last month only to hit a roadblock in the lower chamber last week.
The House Committee on Appropriations voted 8 to 5 to postpone consideration of the bill indefinitely, a move that ended the measure's prospect for passage as lawmakers will adjourn for the year on Wednesday. The Appropriations Committee is firmly controlled by state House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) who was a primary sponsor of the bill, but the other primary House sponsor, state Representative Steve Humphrey (R-Severance) blames Governor John Hickenlooper (D) for ensuring the bill never made it to his desk.
"It was no secret the governor did not want to make a decision on this bill, and sadly for the citizens of Colorado, he convinced enough House Democrats to kill a bill that places raising revenue above public safety," Humphrey said in a statement. "I want to thank Speaker Ferrandino and share his disappointment that his caucus refused to save thousands of Coloradans the burden of paying millions in fines that do nothing to make our roads safer."
The Colorado Municipal League and mayors from towns that would lose photo radar revenue if the bill passed worked hard to strong-arm lawmakers into stopping the bill's advance through the legislative process. American Traffic Solutions hired mega-lobbyist Larry G. Hudson Jr, who pulls in nearly $480,000 per year from clients, to lobby against the ban. State Farm Insurance agitated against the bill because insurance companies profit from the use of photo enforcement in Arizona and California where license points translate into increased premiums paid to the company.
Hickenlooper listened closely to these interests does not want to lose any local support or the potential for campaign cash. A Quinnipiac University poll from February showed voters were evenly split 45 to 45 on the question of whether he deserves to be handed another term in November. Representative Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), another supporter of the ban, blasted the governor for derailing the bill.
"There is no compelling evidence that red light cameras or photo radar vans improve public safety, but there are plenty of figures showing they generate millions of dollars in revenue to grow government at the expense of citizens," Gardner said in a statement. "It's disappointing the governor chose to protect the cities' revenue streams over the objection of a majority of Coloradans."