Red-light cameras have a great view around Kansas City, but no power to ticket intersection scofflaws. Court rulings have, for the moment, turned the cameras into harmless voyeurs.
Now, the Missouri General Assembly looks poised to deputize the artificial traffic cops with legislation that would clarify what the courts have found cloudy.
The House is expected to approve legislation this week that Kansas City officials hope would let the red-light camera program blink back on.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Dave Hinson of St. Clair, said no state rules currently govern the use of traffic enforcement cameras. Hinson said he would prefer to see red-light cameras outlawed, but he’s crafted a compromise to implement tough regulations while leaving final decisions in the hands of local officials.
“This is a way to provide some certainty to cities,” Hinson said. “Ultimately, it’s a local-control issue. If the cities want to do it, that’s up to them.”
Court rulings nixed the camera-generated tickets because they don’t assign points to a driver’s record, contrary to state law. The legislation would grant special exemption for points-free moving violations for red-light camera cases.
While the House is on board with the plan, the Senate may be a tougher hill to climb. Opponents there fear that enshrining traffic enforcement cameras into state law ultimately would lead to greater proliferation around the state. That, said Democratic Sen. Jason Holsman of Kansas City, could be a slippery slope toward greater government surveillance of law-abiding citizens.