AUSTIN - Rep. Carl Isett had reason to feel good Tuesday.

The Texas House, on an 81-55 vote, approved his amendment seeking a ban on red light cameras at street intersections.

The issue has pitted the Lubbock Republican against the Lubbock City Council, which wants the devices.

"(Opponents) have been saying all along that this is about safety," Isett said. "With an objective third party, let's see if they really prove up to make streets safer and save lives. If they don't prove up then they simply go away."

The vote came after a spirited debate in Austin. Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, was the only member of the Panhandle and South Plains delegation to vote the measure down.

Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, was one of the most vocal critics.

"He did not take into consideration that a lot of cities have already made contracts to acquire the red light cameras," Driver said during the debate.

Garland is one of at least 16 Texas cities - including Lubbock - that either have installed red lights cameras or want them.

Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, the House sponsor of Senate Bill 1119, said Isett's proposal "violated local control."

Witnesses from various municipalities, mainly law enforcement officers, have testified at previous hearings the volume of traffic accidents in intersections with the cameras has decreased.

Isett said the devices deny motorists the right to face their accusers. The devices are a "traffic trap" that generate money for cities.

Motorists are fined a minimum of $75 each time their car is photographed running a red light.

With the exception of committee chairman Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, none of the nine members in the panel voted for Isett's bill because they are all from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, cities that - like Lubbock - want the devices. So, for Isett, the only way he could try to have his legislation passed was to attach it as an amendment to someone else's bill, which in this instance is Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas and his SB 1119.

Isett acknowledged Tuesday the measure still faces hurdles, despite the House support for his amendment.

In the meantime, "cities that have them can keep them for another 2� years," Isett said. "If they don't make roads safer but do as critics say ... then they do have 2� years to make money."