2/17/2016Arizona Photo Radar Ban Clears First Hurdle
Arizona House committee advances a total ban on the use of automated ticketing machines statewide.
The movement to outlaw photo enforcement in Arizona advanced on Tuesday with a 5-4 vote in the state House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Members favorably reported a measure that repeals the existing state authorization for the use of red light cameras and speed cameras.
The ultimate fate of the measure remains uncertain, but public pressure on the legislature continues to drive action. Earlier this month, a state Senate committee advanced a bill to punt the question of a camera ban to voters in a statewide referendum. During the debate on the issue, key committee members signaled their interest in the amending the measure so that it would allow continued use of speed cameras in school zones and unlimited use of red light cameras.
The state Senate voted to advance a similarly limited bill that would only eliminate photo radar on state highways, allowing all other automated ticketing to continue. If passed by the state House and signed by the governor, the new law would only eliminate certain cameras in El Mirage and Star Valley.
Camera supporters rallied around the issue of local control. State Representatives Richard C. Andrade (D-Glendale), Charlene R. Fernandez (D-Yuma), Matthew A. Kopec (D-Tucson), Noel W. Campbell (R-Prescott) and Karen Fann (R-Prescott) each suggested that as long as a city council favors automated ticketing machines, they should be allowed to hire a private company to deploy them. Only Campbell voted for the ban, cautioning that he would not necessarily vote in favor of a final bill unless it were amended to only kill cameras in two cities. Photo radar opponents at the hearing rejected the local control argument.
"You are our elected representatives," Arizona activist Shawn Dow told the committee. "You are not expected to allow cities and other jurisdictions to violate our citizens' constitutional rights. You are the ones who authorized photo radar. It is your responsibility to take them down and end this program."
The ban bill's sponsor, state Representative Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa), made clear that she had reversed her position after having voted in favor of automated ticketing in the past. She co-sponsored the automated enforcement expansion bill that kicked off the massive public backlash last month.
"Last year I did vote no on this bill," Townsend said. "But I did give my word that if was proven that there was fraud involved in this system, that I'd run the bill myself to remove the cameras... I gave my word, so I stand before you keeping my word."
Redflex Traffic Systems, an Australian camera firm with an office in Arizona, is currently under investigation by federal authorities in the United States and Australia. A federal jury found a municipal official in Chicago, Illinois guilty of taking bribes from Redflex, and two of the firm's top employees have admitted guilt in the scheme.
A copy of the ban bill is available in a 35k PDF file at the source link below.