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Time running out for red-light camera legislation

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 | 5:06 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — Time is running out for Missouri lawmakers to pass a bill regulating red-light cameras, and some say inaction could prompt cities to experiment and allow the cameras to operate again.

Court rulings have stifled programs around Missouri where camera-generated tickets didn't assign points to a driver's record. A bill approved earlier this year in the House would grant a special exemption for points-free moving violations from red-light cameras.

The state Senate took up legislation Monday that would provide the legal framework for red-light cameras to operate around Missouri, but lawmakers say the bill stalled.

As the legislature prepares to adjourn, chances of passing a bill appear slim, The Kansas City Star reported.

"I just don't know if there is enough time to get the bill done," said sponsoring Sen. Brian Munzlinger, a northeast Missouri Republican.

Without the state establishing rules to govern red-light cameras, "cities that have put their red-light cameras on hold will start assessing points," Munzlinger said. "I just think that's wrong."

Sen. Jason Holsman, a Kansas City Democrat, spoke in support of establishing regulations out of concern that inaction could lead to a proliferation of red-light cameras around the state. He also speculated that some cities might experiment with facial-recognition software.

Kansas City suspended enforcement of its red-light program last year.

In a March letter to Mayor Sly James and the City Council, City Manager Troy Schulte said if the Legislature takes no action, Kansas City, which previously didn't assign points, may have to go to a system where photos are taken of drivers' faces so points can be assessed for red-light violations.

Sen. Brad Lager, a Savannah Republican, is a critic of the cameras and believes that if the Legislature isn't willing to pass an outright ban, it should do nothing. He said red-light cameras are "less about safety. They're more about revenue generation for the cities."


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