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The bill would have authorized local units of government to use photographic evidence to ticket red light runners.
(Published Mar 4, 2013)
A bill that would give local units of government the authority to use traffic cameras to enforce red light violations was vigorously debated before it was defeated in the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 25. The House companion was heard and tabled by the House Transportation Policy Committee on Feb. 22.
Authored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), and Sen. John Pederson (R-St. Cloud), HF 487/ SF 377 would allow a vendor to contract with a local unit of government to capture images of red light runners, review them, and forward them to the local law enforcement agency. The photos would capture the license plate of the vehicle, the face of the driver, and evidence that the vehicle entered the intersection against a red light. Law enforcement agencies would then issue tickets at their discretion. A lobbyist representing Redflex Traffic Systems testified that the cameras cost between $100,000 and $150,000 per intersection.
Proponents say studies have shown that, where used, the devices deter red light running, thereby reducing collisions in high-risk intersections. They also provide an enforcement tool to supplement the work of traffic enforcement officers. In both hearings, committee members and opponents, including the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, expressed concerns about privacy issues, cost, and decreased interaction with law enforcement.
The bill was initiated by representatives of photo enforcement vendors. Although the League supports the legislation (see SD-44 in the League’s 2013 City Policies), the LMC Board of Directors did not make the initiative a priority issue for the 2013 legislative session.
Under a 2007 Minnesota Supreme Court case, State v. Kuhlman, the court concluded that a Minneapolis ordinance authorizing photo enforcement of traffic lights conflicted with state law. This invalidated traffic camera use by local government in Minnesota. Part of the reasoning of the court was that state traffic law displaces local traffic law except for local law that is expressly permitted by state statute. This bill would grant local units of government explicit permission.
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Contact Anne Finn
Assistant IGR Director
(651) 281-1263 or (800) 925-1122
Contact Laura Ziegler
(651) 281-1267 or (800) 925-1122
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