Cameras that bust drivers for speeding or running red lights could be banished in Colorado after a bipartisan group in the state legislature reached consensus on the controversial devices.
A proposal introduced in the Senate late last week would bar cities and counties from using automated vehicle-identification systems that pinpoint drivers committing traffic infractions.
Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, has introduced similar legislation the past two years, though unlike in previous sessions, he has strong support this go-round from House and Senate Democratic leadership.
"These cameras just create revenue for cities and don't actually increase public safety at our intersections," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, the bill's prime House sponsor. "I think we should be focused on making people safe, not raising money."
Ferrandino said he's long supported the legislation, though it's never made it out of the Senate. Earlier this year, he approached Renfroe about being the House sponsor and helping to back the measure.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of tickets are doled out across the state as cities rake in millions of dollars in revenue.
Last year, Denver handed out about 35,000 red-light photo tickets and nearly 195,000 speeding photo tickets, according to officials. Combined, the city made about $7.8 million on the infractions.
The city and county of Denver is opposed to the proposed legislation.
The Colorado Municipal League, a nonpartisan group that helps assist local jurisdictions, is also a staunch opponent of the proposed measure. "It's a real concern that after lawmakers have passed bills to improve catching hit-and-run drivers, now they're trying to relax photo enforcement laws," said Mark Radtke, a legislative and policy advocate for the Muncipal League.
He noted the recent passage of the Medina Alert bill, which allows authorities to better broadcast hit-and-run information quickly on electronic highway signs and via the media.
"We need to do more to protect these hit-and-run victims by enforcing red-light and speed-limit compliance," Radtke added.
The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police is also against the measure.
Renfroe said he has the votes to get the bill through the legislature. His main concern is whether Gov. John Hickenlooper will try to spike the measure before it gets to his desk. A spokesman for Hickenlooper on Monday said the governor's policy team is still reviewing the proposal.
In Arkansas, New Jersey and Wisconsin, laws are in place that prohibit photo radar enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Intersections should be about safety, not money," Renfroe said. "The data is mixed. Does it increase safety? Does it not increase safety? One thing that is clear is that there's other ways to increase safety at intersections."
Kurtis Lee: 303-954-1655, email@example.com or twitter.com/kurtisalee