JEFFERSON CITY — By slim margins, the Missouri House passed a bill adding restrictions to the use of red-light cameras.
The 84-63 vote had two more votes than the minimum 82 required to pass a bill.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St.Clair, would prohibit assessing points against a driver's license if the driver were ticketed because of a red-light camera, and it would cap any fine at $135. The bill also would require intersections to have a sign indicating they have camera enforcement, and would prevent cities from installing the cameras then immediately shortening the yellow-light period.
Much of the dissent around the bill centered on the representatives’ disdain for red-light cameras. Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, said that people against red-light cameras should be in favor of the bill because it adds more restrictions and regulations to the cameras.
Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, disagreed with Colona. Cox said the bill only legitimizes the cameras by stating that they cannot assess points on a driver’s record, and that it ultimately will lead to increased use of the red-light cameras.
"The courts of appeal said there is no such thing as a moving traffic violation under state law that has no points," Cox said. "This bill allows a moving traffic violation without points and enables those people that want red-light camera ordinances."
Hinson said Cox’s statement was partially accurate but misleading because that ruling is under current state law, which this bill would change.
Hinson said the courts have ruled that local governments have to either remove the cameras or change their ordinances to assess points with those tickets. He said because of that ruling, cities such as St. Peters started assessing points to their red-light camera tickets and increased their fine to $500.
This bill would allow the cities to keep their cameras without increasing the penalty of the tickets.
The bill also added restrictions to speed cameras, which Hinson said are unregulated. The bill would restrict the use of speed cameras to school, work and safety zones.
Cox said he liked some of the regulatory aspects of the bill, even though he believed the bill would increase the use of red-light cameras.
"Is it what everyone wants as far as the total elimination of the red-light cameras?" Hinson asked rhetorically. "No, it’s not. It’s not what I want, but I’m also a realist. ... I think it’s a good common sense approach to reduce the cameras where they’re at."
The bill will be sent to the Senate for discussion, and Hinson said he has heard "rumblings" from senators that they might modify his bill to enact a ban on red-light cameras.
"I’m fine with that," he said. "I made that statement on the floor, but we’ll see if they’re able to pull that off or if the bill comes back the way it is now."
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