Arizona Legislators Trying (Again) To Ban Traffic Cameras

from the exceptions-abound dept

Seven years after the idea was first proposed, it finally appears as though the state of Arizona might be on the verge of a traffic camera ban.

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.

Well, sort of. The bill is still undergoing massive invasive surgery from entities unwilling to see this revenue stream dry up. Another proposal to scale back the state’s reliance on traffic cam income moved forward after being limited solely to state highways — basically killing off cameras in only two towns along those roads. This more expansive proposal is experiencing whatever the opposite of growing pains are. The exceptions to the proposed rule are turning the bill into a hollow shell of an idea, despite the ban having widespread support from the public.

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 good news is that several politicians who previously supported a very generous expansion of the state’s traffic camera programs have now switched sides — including one who is a co-sponsor of the new bill. Many of these legislators who backed this expansion campaigned as “supporters of liberty” but apparently secretly harbored a soft spot for cop-less traffic enforcement and the persuasive tactics of American Traffic Solution’s lobbyists. After experiencing some backlash, these legislators are now backing the new bill, which may actually scale back use of some cameras if there’s anything left when everyone’s done rewriting it.

Those arguing for a less aggressive cutback are apparently willing to let individual locales undercut the intent of the proposed law entirely.

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.

The other bill — also approved by this committee — is nearly completely useless as there are hardly any cameras in use on state highways.

And the state’s history with traffic cams is far from comforting, especially if you’re someone the cameras are going to be used against. Arizona used to have contracts with Redflex — now under investigation for bribing government officials in thirteen states — but dumped it just as it was handing it a “Governor’s Award for Innovation.” American Traffic Solutions wants to pick up the slack, but it’s only a “better” choice in the sense that the company hasn’t actually bribed government officials. Instead, it’s been responsible for millions of dollars of dismissed tickets — some because it never sent out notices in time and others because it kept “enforcing” school speed limits when the schools weren’t actually in session. The latter is especially notable because the committee approving the bill wants to carve out an exception for school zone traffic enforcement.

With the public behind a ban on traffic cams, an exception-riddled bill that does little to scale back Arizona’s use of the technology can’t exactly be called “representational” of the public’s views. But that’s seemingly not going to stop their “representatives” from gutting it anyway.

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Comments on “Arizona Legislators Trying (Again) To Ban Traffic Cameras”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Without red light cameras they’ll have to further criminalize something else in order to get budget money.

Don’t forget that a lot of these cities have part of their budget PLANNED around revenue collected from red light/speeding camera tickets. Sometimes individual cops even get “quotas” of fine revenues they have to meet (all unofficially of course).

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Don’t forget that a lot of these cities have part of their budget PLANNED around revenue collected from red light/speeding camera tickets.

Yeah, the second they include revenue from such systems in the budget(much like how some police departments have budgets involving items stolen at badge-point) it shows that they have no interest in decreasing crime, as that would negatively impact the budget. Red light cameras are there for the money, plain and simple.

Another Anonymous Coward says:

Simple solution

Want to keep the profit motive out of this? Localities that use these cameras must return all but a small percentage (say 10%, to cover administrative costs) of ALL funds generated to the state. That returned money goes into the state’s general funds – no earmarks, no nothing.

Should cut out the third party companies, money-hungry little burgs, etc. If a locality is serious about enforcement, no problem, otherwise, they won’t bother – there’s no money in it for them.

Quiet Lurcker says:

Re: Simple solution

Make it even simpler. Monies (a minimum of 90% – they do have to cover the costs) generated by these machines goes into a fund. Anyone who gets a machine-generate ticket can take it to any lawyer and have that lawyer fight it in court. The laywer’s costs come out of that fund, win or lose. If the ticket/charge is dismissed for whatever reason, the government has to pay 100% of all the fines, fees, costs, etc., for that ticket to the driver.

I see that as a huge win. The lawyers get money no matter whether they win or lose in court. The government is discouraged from using the cameras because there’s no money in it. And because the drivers get free lawyer help, they stand a good chance of seeing the charges dropped; anecdotal evidence suggests that charges and tickets seem to have a greater tendency to disappear when lawyers get involved.

Now, if only that would work in the real world…..

DanA says:

Re: Re: Simple solution

Awarding costs to people who prevail in court is good policy. But awarding costs to losers is a prime example of creating perverse incentives – the very thing that the idea of reallocating the funds is supposed to address. If lawyers get paid either way they have no incentive to actually do a good job representing the client or take cases that are likely to win. This would drive up court costs with thousands of extra unnecessary hearings for legitimate traffic tickets because there would never be a reason to not contest it since doing so is free.

I mean it would be better than the current system but all it would serve to do is be a very tiny jobs bill for substandard lawyers. I’m for job creation whereever we can do so but bad lawyers are not a target I’d choose.

Stephen says:

Ban the CAMS

Enough of the shell bans (that are really just BANS in name.

When you have vendors like ATS (and Redflex) even SUE TO STOP VOTER BANS, you know the gig is up!



(or at least let the voters do this. OR is ATS afraid of what Tucson voters did and OUTLAW the SCAMERAS!)
Ban the Cams on Facebook
Camerafraud on Facebook

James C. Walker (profile) says:

Ticket scameras

AZ residents need to call their state Representatives and Senators to insist on a TOTAL ban on speed and red light cameras in the state. Tell each legislator that NO ticket cameras are acceptable any longer and you want the entire corrupt money grab industry gone from the state. Let them know that NOT voting for a total ban means they are “in the pocket” of the for profit camera companies based in Arizona and that this is utterly unacceptable to you. Contact info:

James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

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