Pennsylvania bills would save, but regulate use of enforcement cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two bills under review at the Pennsylvania statehouse cover the use of automated enforcement techniques in the state.

The Senate Transportation Committee recently approved an amended bill if passed into law would allow vehicles to proceed through red lights if sensors do not detect the vehicles, triggering the light to change to green.

Another provision in the bill would also delay plans to rid the state of red-light cameras.

The city of Philadelphia and some other municipalities use automated ticketing devices. Without legislative action to save them, use of the devices expires on Jan. 1, 2017.

HB950 would extend the sunset provision for red-light cameras by one decade to 2027.

The bill awaits further consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there HB950 would move back to the House to sign off on a change before heading to the governor’s desk. The House-approved version would provide permanent authorization for the revenue tool.

Critics say the bill is an effort to help ensure the existing ticketing programs never go away and also to expand their use throughout the state.

A separate Senate bill also covers automated enforcement. Sponsored by Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester, the bill would put in place rules on the use of technology used to track drivers’ movements through automated license plate readers, or ALPRs.

High-tech cameras that capture the date, time and location as they scan passing vehicles are used in some capacity by 75 percent of law enforcement throughout the country, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Private companies, such as repossession companies, also use the technology that can scan up to 2,000 plates per minute.

The surveillance technology at times is credited with alerting law enforcement to the whereabouts of suspects wanted in connection with dangerous crimes.

The bill, SB1076, would regulate use of the technology by the public and private sector.

Specifically, readers could be used by law enforcement agencies only. Storage of data by non-government agencies would be prohibited. Any entity using ALPRs would also be required to report their use.

The bill is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

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