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Legislative Update: Alabama Rejects Red Light Cameras. Texas, Ohio Closer to Bans
The Alabama state legislature let a measure to allow red light cameras die. Committees in the Texas Senate and Ohio House approved bills to ban camera enforcement.

 Ohio Rep. James RaussenRed light camera bans advanced in the Texas and Ohio legislatures yesterday, while lawmakers in Alabama allowed proposed legislation that would have allowed use of the devices to die.

Texas took the biggest step forward with Senate Intergovernmental Affairs Committee approval of HB 259 (bill text), a bill by Rep. Gary Elkins that would ban red light camera enforcement in the state. As the measure already passed the full House on February 28 by a vote of 113-23, it would only need Senate approval before being sent to the governor's desk for his signature. Senate leadership has expressed support for the bill.

In Ohio, the House Transportation, Public Safety, and Homeland Security Committee approved HB 56 (bill text) by a vote of 8-3. The measure would outlaw both red light and speed cameras in the state -- unless the tickets are issued by a police officer who witnessed the event and handed the ticket to the motorist "at the general time and general location of the traffic law violation." Full House consideration could come as early as next week.

At least five Ohio cities currently use red light cameras, with several others including Cincinnati ready to begin installing the devices. The city of Northwood began using photo radar last week.

Alabama rejected all attempts to bring camera enforcement to the state on Tuesday, the legislature declining to consider a bill that would allow the use of the devices in the state. Tuesday was the last day for a new bill to have a chance of becoming law before the session adjourns. The House Public Safety Committee had scheduled a vote on the red light camera bill that morning, but canceled when only seven of the fifteen committee members -- an insufficient number to pass the bill -- came to the hearing.

Legislators, particularly Ohio Rep. Raussen, have continued to cite the mounting evidence that cameras may actually increase accidents at intersections as the primary reason to reject them. In testimony yesterday, Raussen specifically cited the North Carolina A&T University study and suggested that cities ignore the evidence in favor of increased profit. "When they see the red of a stoplight, they are hoping that it means lots of green for their budgets," Raussen testified.