Senate panel rejects proposed red light camera ban
Two southwest Missouri senators voted for the ban
By Chad Livengood • firstname.lastname@example.org • February 25, 2009
JEFFERSON CITY — The Senate Transportation Committee voted down a bill this morning that would have banned municipalities like Springfield from using cameras to photograph drivers running red lights.
The panel voted 7-2 against Senate Bill 211, which was sponsored by Sen. Jim Lembke, a St. Louis County Republican.
The two "yes" votes came from Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, and Sen. Dan Clemens, R-Marshfield.
"I think this is just another way to raise money for municipalities," said Scott, who represents Barton, Benton, Cedar, Dallas, Henry, Hickory, Pettis, Polk and St. Clair counties.
Lembke has said there are potential violations of the U.S. constitutional involved with red light cameras, which take a photo of a car's license plate. Law enforcement agencies then mail a $100 ticket to the owner of the vehicle.
Springfield has 13 red light cameras mounted at its busiest intersections. The city plans to add three more in the near future.
Although the committee rejected Lembke's legislation, he still might attempt to tack in onto transportation-related bills when they come up for debate on the Senate floor, said Sen. Bill Stouffer, a Saline County Republican.
Stouffer said he has some misgivings about red light cameras and the way tickets are distributed without giving drivers a chance to defend themselves in court, like a regular moving violation would allow if a police officer caught them in the act.
But Stouffer said he voted against the bill because he doesn't think the bill could get through the Senate.
Municipalities have been lobbying hard for the bill. They say it saves lives while creating a revenue stream for them and saving motorists money by preventing accidents.
Missouri families for Safer Roads, a statewide coalition of transportation safety advocates and municipalities, immediately praised the Senate committee's decision to reject Lembke's bill.
"Red light cameras are proven tools for enforcing traffic safety laws. Missouri Families for a Safer Roads is grateful that the Senate Transportation Committee recognized that red light cameras are working — in raising driver awareness, reducing crashes and saving countless lives," the group said in a statement.