Red light camera plan defeated in state Senate committee
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- February 25, 2013 - 6:34 PM
An attempt to allow cities to install cameras at high-traffic intersections to catch red-light runners was defeated in a Senate committee on Monday.
The Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee voted down the bill, sponsored by Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, following a chilly reception the concept received last week in a House committee. The committee voted the measure down 9-6.
A second-roll-call, to advance the bill without recommending that it pass, failed 8-7.
Prospects for reviving it don't look good, Pederson said after the vote.
"The deadlines are approaching... any bill that is still quote-unquote alive needs to be acted on favorably before the March 15 deadline," he said. "I would say that's unlikely at this point."
"Maybe a pilot project might have been more palatable for folks," he said.
Sometimes called "photocop," the system involves cameras installed at busy intersections to snap pictures and video of red-light runners. Tickets are mailed out, generally to the address of the registered owner, an issue that has raised questions for many legislators.
The only Minnesota city that has tried the system is Minneapolis in 2005-06. The state Supreme Court ruled that the city had no authority from the state to install such a system. The court also said that assuming that the registered owner was the driver eliminated the presumption of innocence.
Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, questioned what would happen if his brother was driving his car -- would Champion be sent the ticket, and have to prove he was not the driver? The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association opposed the bill, saying it builds animosity toward officers while at the same time taking the officer out of the equation.
This year's effort would allow cities to use the system if they choose to. Supporters, including one of the major national red-light camera companies, said the cameras would take pictures of the driver as well as the vehicle. They cited studies showing accident reductions in major cities with red-light camera systems.
Supporters included municipal officials from St. Cloud who said it would reduce serious accidents at intersections and change drivers' behavior.
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