Texas House approves effort to ban red light cameras

| 5/25/2007

Cities in Texas that post cameras at intersections to nab those who run red lights soon might have to take them down.

The cameras, which snap pictures of red-light runners or speeders’ vehicle tags, have been authorized in more than 20 cities throughout the state since 2003. Tickets are mailed to vehicle owners, regardless who was driving at the time.

The House voted 81-55 to approve an amendment that would give cities two years to prove the devices make roads safer. The revised version passed the chamber on a 136-12 vote, which cleared the way for the bill – SB1119 – to head back to the Senate for consideration.

If an agreement can’t be reached, a committee of select members from both chambers would likely meet to hammer out a deal before the legislative session ends Monday, May 28. It would then head to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk.

The current version of the bill would require participating cities to report to the Legislature information about wrecks at intersections where the devices are installed. During the 2009 legislative session, the House and Senate would evaluate the reports and vote whether to allow cities to keep the cameras.

A long-time opponent of red-light cameras, Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, said he added the sunset provision as a protection from cities using the devices to fill local coffers.

The bill would establish criteria for where red-light cameras can be posted. Cities would be required to do traffic studies at intersections they want to use cameras.

It also would set limitations on city agreements with camera vendors. Vendors couldn’t charge cities based on the number of citations issued.

Among the other provisions added to the bill in the House is a requirement that warning signs be posted 100 feet from monitored intersections. Local authorities also would be prohibited from reporting the violations to credit bureaus.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor