from the exceptions-abound dept
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.