6/11/2015Ohio Legislature To Force Cities To Comply With Camera Restrictions
Ohio General Assembly to withhold funding from cities that defy the state law limiting speed camera use.
Ohio lawmakers are not sitting back as municipalities and a handful of judges defy a state law imposing minor restrictions on the use of automated ticketing machines. Though it has been referred to as a "ban" the measure only requires that a police officer sit near a speed camera or red light camera as it does its work (view bill), which increases the cost of running a photo ticketing program. Furious cities like Toledo found local judges willing to put a hold on the law.
Akron, Columbus, Dayton and Springfield, intent on preserving their cameras, have also filed similar lawsuits. The state Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday discussed an attempt to fight back by hitting those cities where it hurts most. A provision in the proposed state budget would withhold state aid to cities that fail to comply with the camera law in an amount equal to the value of the tickets the city issued.
Toledo hired Andy Douglas, a former state Supreme Court justice, to lobby the legislature against this provision.
"While the proposed legislation is probably being submitted by its supporters to right a perceived wrong, the city believes it's just mean spirited and punitive in nature because a lawsuit was filed," Douglas said on Tuesday. "To for any reason take more funds from the city than are properly allocated to it is draconian in nature."
Under the proposed budget, the revenue from the traffic cameras would be divided evenly among all the other cities in the county that decided to abide by the law. Lawmakers asked Douglas how Toledo would respond if its camera money were withheld in this fashion.
"In the end, Toledo is going to be looking for its money back," Douglas said. "In conversations with the [Toledo] law director -- this is only half-speculation -- I believe if this legislation is passed, he believes he has a sacred duty on behalf of the city to file another lawsuit."
As the budget is a "must pass" bill, there is a high probability of approval. The state House cleared the measure in April. If endorsed by the Senate, the measure will head to Governor John Kasich (R), who supported the photo enforcement restrictions.
A copy of the latest draft of the budget language is available in a 20k PDF file at the source link below.