Missouri lawmakers go on offensive to combat ticket cams

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/23/2015

The use of automated cameras to ticket drivers is drawing a lot of attention at the Missouri statehouse.

Missouri law requires points to be added for moving violations. However, camera-generated tickets in the state don’t assign points. As a result, courts question whether automated ticketing violates state law. The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue in the coming months.

Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Union, describes the automated ticketing practice as “absurd” and says the process “serves as a perfect illustration of why people distrust their government.”

“This type of law-smithing leads to abuse and waste to the point that we have to spend valuable taxpayer dollars to get the Missouri courts to decide if moving through a red light constitutes a ‘moving violation,’” Curtman said in prepared remarks.

As a result, he has introduced a bill that could outright ban the use of ticket cameras throughout the state. Specifically, HB207 would put a question to voters during the August primary to decide whether red-light and speed cameras should be against the law.

Curtman said the November election results in St. Charles County, Mo., spurred him to take action. County voters agreed to prohibit law enforcement throughout the county, including police departments, from using photo enforcement to issue citations.

Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville, also wants to get rid of ticket cameras. Instead of relying on a public vote, HB234 would simply prohibit any local governments or state agencies from setting up ticket programs starting Aug. 28. Communities with programs already in place would have until Sept. 1, 2016, to shut down the cameras.

A separate effort in the House is intended to make sure residents are not bothered with electronic ticketing while driving outside of the state.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, introduced a bill to prohibit the state Department of Revenue from working with other states that try to impose or collect fines resulting from red-light or speed cameras.

Burlison says HB421 addresses a practice that is “nothing more than an unscrupulous revenue grab.”

“This is a growing problem across the country as more municipalities concoct these predatory schemes to extort money from innocent travelers.”

Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant, is also taking action to address concerns about the ticketing method.

He introduced two bills, HB452 and HB453, that require signage to be posted at intersections with photo enforcement cameras and a requirement that photos snapped of drivers must be from the front.

In addition to forbidding red-light and speed cameras, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, is pursuing a new rule that would outlaw the use of automated license plate scanners.

Cameras to capture the date, time and location by scanning vehicles as they pass are used in some capacity by about 600 local and state police departments and other state and federal agencies, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Retention periods of data for innocent truckers and motorists range from a couple of days to as long as decade.

SB196 would make both technologies illegal in Missouri.

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