House approves measure removing legal hurdle for red-light camera fines
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House approves measure removing legal hurdle for red-light camera fines

Date: March 12, 2014
By: Steven Anthony
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1557

JEFFERSON CITY - A bill given first-round approval by the Missouri House on Wednesday, March 12, would remove a legal hurdle that would then allow cities to enforce red-light and speed-camera fines.

Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, sponsored the measure.

The bill came in response to a Supreme Court decision late last year, which threw municipal red-light camera enforcement in limbo.

The Court said moving violations had to be counted against a person's driving record -- something that is impossible with automated traffic enforcement cameras that only identify the car and not the driver.

Hinson's measure did face fierce opposition from a member of his own party.

Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville, said the bill outsources law enforcement to other states.

"We are giving the power to police Missouri citizens to other states. These [red light camera] contracts that are given out are mainly from two states: Arizona and Texas," Spencer said. "And these states are the ones that are policing our Missouri citizens and I think that is wrong."

Spencer also called out his fellow Republicans for supporting a bill that finds a way to increase revenue, making it look like a tax increase.

"It's amazing the people that are for lowering taxes have a creative way to increase revenues," Spencer said. "This has become an implied tax."

Spencer later added, "This bill needs to fail."

The House rejected Spencer's amendment which would have required voter approval on red-light or speed-cameras in their community.

Hinson opposed the amendment, saying it wasn't practical.

"This is a poison pill to kill this bill," Hinson said.

This led to an intense debate between Spencer and Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Jefferson County.

Roorda insisted that once a person is issued a red light camera violation, they don't commit one again.

"How do you know that?" Spencer responded.

Under constant questioning from Spencer, Roorda did not provide the source of his information.

Spencer also cited statistics that he said showed red light cameras do not reduce "T-bone" or rear-end accidents, but he too could not provide that information under questioning in the House. 

The bill passed by voice vote.

The measure was approved in the House and will now move to the Senate.