5/7/2015Missouri House To Allow Voters To Decide On Traffic Cams
Voters in Missouri would decide at the ballot box whether red light cameras should be banned under a bill that passed the state House.
The Missouri General Assembly has never been able to come to agreement about whether red light cameras and speed cameras should be used in the state. Bills put forward to advance photo enforcement have failed just as often as legislation that would ban automated ticketing machines. Last week, the state House of Representatives came up with what a large majority, 109 to 37, saw as the perfect compromise. They voted to pass the decision along to the people.
If the measure passes the state Senate and is signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon (D), a measure banning red light cameras and speed cameras would be placed on the August 2, 2016 statewide ballot. The proposed measure leaves open the use of cameras for automated license plate readers (ALPR or ANPR) and toll road cameras.
"No county, city, town, village, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision of this state shall enact, adopt, or enforce any law, ordinance, regulation, order, or other provision that authorizes the use of an automated traffic enforcement system or systems to establish evidence that a motor vehicle or its operator is not in compliance with traffic signals, traffic speeds, or other traffic laws, ordinances, rules, or regulations on any public street, road or highway within this state, or to impose or collect any civil or criminal fine, fee, or penalty for any such noncompliance," the propose ballot language states.
Judging by the response in St. Charles County, a suburb of St. Louis, the cameras would not fare well in an electoral challenge. Of the county's 379,000 residents who voted in November, 73 percent wanted the red light cameras to be gone. Even the state courts have recently reversed course and begun pushing back against the use of cameras. The Court of Appeals issued a final order striking down red light camera ordinances as unlawful (view case).
A decade ago, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) decided not to wait for the legislature to authorize the use of red light cameras. Ignoring the advice of its own legal counsel (view legal memo) ATS began issuing tickets, a move that cost the Arizona-based firm $16 million in partial refunds to 892,725 unlawful ticket recipients. A class action lawsuit settlement approved on March 13, citing the appellate court's rulings.
"Those appellate decisions resulted in certain red light camera ordinances being repealed and also led to other Missouri municipal red light camera programs to be suspended," Judge Tom W. DePriest explained.
A copy of the ballot proposal, House Bill 207, is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below.