Arizona lawmakers pursue rules on traffic cameras

| 3/5/2007

Arizona voters would get the final say on speed cameras under a bill moving through the state's Senate. Other efforts related to camera use also are drawing consideration.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 3-1 to approve legislation that would allow voters to decide whether to post speed enforcement cameras along roadways in the state. Local streets would remain under the authority of cities.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, offered the referendum - SCR1027 - to put the issue of speed cameras on the 2008 ballot. His effort was unveiled after Gov. Janet Napolitano directed the Arizona Department of Public Safety to identify roadways in the state where photo enforcement should be used, the East Valley Tribune reported.

Napolitano has been touting the use of speed cameras statewide since the city of Scottsdale used them for nine months a year ago along a stretch of Loop 101. The governor said the cameras that dotted a 7.8-mile stretch of the highway from Scottsdale Road to Shea Boulevard appeared to alter the behavior of drivers.

During the test period the cameras helped the city generate about $800,000 in profits, The Arizona Republic reported. The cameras were reactivated along the stretch of roadway Feb. 22.

Rep. Michele Reagan R-Scottsdale, has offered a bill to rein in revenues from speed-camera tickets. Her bill - HB2655 - would earmark all city profits from tickets to a state fund for road work.

Reagan said she only wants to make sure that cities looking to post cameras to state highways aren't motivated to fill city coffers. The bill is in committee.

Another change sought by Adams has been killed by the House Transportation Committee. The bill - HB2442 - would have made it easier for drivers nabbed for speeding by cameras to escape fines and points on their licenses. It would have allowed people to have three photo-radar tickets dismissed if they are willing to attend traffic school within any 24-month period. Arizona law now allows one.

The Senate Transportation Committee rejected a bill to outlaw blatant efforts by speedy drivers to avoid penalties and fines. Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, offered a bill -SB1156 - that would have prohibited drivers from put anything on license plates that obscures the letters and numbers.