5/8/2015Colorado Legislature Votes To Ban Traffic Cameras
Colorado governor must decide whether to sign a bill to ban traffic cameras outright or a bill that lets the people vote on the issue.
The Colorado General Assembly adjourned for the year on Wednesday leaving a pair of bills on the governor's desk that would end the use of red light cameras and speed cameras throughout the state. The House approach would let voters in each individual community decide at the ballot box whether cameras should be banned. The Senate approach would impose an outright ban. It is now up to Governor John Hickenlooper (D) to decide which approach (if any) will become law with his signature.
Proponents of the ban will have an uphill battle convincing Hickenlooper to sign their bill, as the governor has already signaled his support for automated ticketing machines.
"As a former mayor, I know all too well the challenges of operating under tight budgets, and the hard choices that local government officials must make," Hickenlooper wrote in a recent letter to lawmakers. "When the General Assembly authorized the use of photo radar and red light cameras, it had the wisdom to allow each local government to decide for itself whether to use these technologies... This prudent action by the legislature should not be undone by House Bill 15-1098, which lays a blanket prohibition on all communities from using these tools."
Lawmakers are calculating that the governor will stay true to his word and allow at least the local referendum approach to become law since Hickenlooper claimed that his motivation was to maintain about local control.
"As always, we are ready to work with you in this endeavor, and to achieve a solution that respects local control and protects the safety of the driving public, bicyclists, and pedestrians," Hickenlooper wrote.
Under the amended version of House Bill 1098, which passed the House 40 to 23 and the Senate 21 to 14, no jurisdiction could implement a new photo enforcement program without submitting the question to the local voters. If the state government wanted to install speed cameras, for example, the question would be put on a statewide ballot. Cities that already use cameras would have to put the question to voters in the November 8, 2016 general election. Despite Hickenlooper's warning, the General Assembly also sent him a second bill dispensing with the public vote and outlawing the cameras.
"A governmental entity or agent thereof shall not issue a traffic citation pursuant to this article based on evidence gathered as a result of an automated vehicle identification system used on any highways, roads, or streets," Senate Bill 276. "Except that a governmental entity or agent thereof or a toll road or toll highway operator may use an automated vehicle identification system to assess tolls and charges and issue citations for violations relating to high occupancy vehicle and high occupancy toll lanes."
The House voted 38 to 25 in favor of the total ban. The Senate vote was 25 to 10.
Colorado follows the lead of the Missouri House of Representatives which recently voted to let statewide voters decide on photo enforcement. Colorado and Missouri's approach contrasts sharply with that of Texas and Illinois which advanced measures that would do little to curb the use of cameras, calling them "bans."
A copy of House Bill 1098 is available in a 33k PDF file at the source link below.