Gov. John Hickenlooper Thursday struck down, for the second year in a row, a bill that would strip red-light cameras off of most city streets statewide.
The proposal, House Bill 16-1231, would have allowed the use of red-light cameras only in specific areas, such as school zones and streets undergoing construction or repair.
Hickenlooper reminded lawmakers that he had vetoed two similar bills last year, with the admonition that the use of red-light cameras should be limited and “used only in a manner that instills trust in government and confidence that public safety is paramount.”
However, he continued, HB 1321 had no such reasonable limitations. Instead, the bill sets up a state-imposed “blanket ban on red light cameras for all municipalities, denying communities the right to decide for themselves based on their own traffic safety needs.”
Hickenlooper earned kudos from the Traffic Safety Coalition, which had opposed the proposal, along with most of the state’s largest municipalities and police chiefs.
In a statement, the coalition’s co-chairs, Paul and Sue Oberhauser, thanked the governor for rejecting the proposal, adding that “red light running is an often deadly epidemic, and indisputable data shows traffic safety cameras reduce red light running, crashes and save lives.” The Oberhauser’s daughter was killed by a motorist who ran a red light.
The bill passed the House in March 3 on a slim 33-31 vote, and in the Senate later that month on a 23-12 vote. Both votes were bipartisan, as was the bill’s sponsorship.
“This isn’t a partisan issue,” said conservative pundit Jonathan Lockwood of Advancing Colorado.
“We know that red light camera companies are notorious for bribing politicians,” Lockwood said. “It seems to me nobody likes [the cameras] unless they make money off of them…it’s just one more tool in the toolbox of big government to take people’s money.”
Lockwood is referring to a KMGH investigation last year that revealed the former CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems had pleaded guilty to bribery in Ohio. That executive, Karen Finley, has since pleaded guilty to a $2 million bribery scheme in Illinois.
Redflex has installed red light cameras in at least two Colorado cities: Denver and Fort Collins. And a former vice president of Redflex alleged Colorado officials had also taken bribes from the company. The official did not name names.
Denver has since contracted with a different company for its red light cameras, according to KMGH.
Photo credit: Emertz76, Creative Commons, Flickr.