Transportation

Ohio Bill Aims to Punish Cities with Traffic Cameras

The idea behind House Bill 410 is simple: claw back state money from cities with traffic camera programs.

by Jackie Borchardt, Advance Ohio Media / March 22, 2018
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(TNS) — COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio lawmakers' latest attempt to shut down red light and speed cameras passed the Ohio House on Wednesday and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Unlike previous attempts to shutter the controversial technology, House Bill 410 doesn't put restrictions on the cameras. Instead, it makes cities lose money by moving camera-initiated violations to municipal court and deducting money from state appropriations in the amount cities and villages generate from camera tickets.

The bill passed the House in a 65-19 vote, sending it to the Ohio Senate.

Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said the bill was a response to the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling last year that determined the legislature could not restrict local governments' use of the cameras. Seitz said the bill will test local governments' claims that the camera programs are intended to increase safety and not just revenues.

"This is an issue of social justice. This is an issue of common fairness. This is an issue of due process," Seitz said.

What would the bill do?

The bill would hit local governments with camera programs in two ways:

  • Municipalities would receive less money from the state local government fund in the amount it takes in from traffic camera violations.
  • All civil traffic violations would be filed in municipal courts instead of mayor's courts or with an administrative hearing officer employed by the local government.

Local governments would lose money from both changes. They would likely continue paying third-party camera companies to operate cameras and lose all revenue. And local governments would pay the nonrefundable municipal court filing fee, not the defendant.

What did opponents say?

Most lawmakers who spoke against the bill said it unfairly punishes cash-strapped cities looking for revenue streams after a bevy of state funding cuts to local governments.

Rep. Mike Duffey, a Worthington Republican, said the bill would force police to patrol traffic instead of addressing other crimes. Duffey said he supports measures that prohibit ticketing drivers twice for the same offense or addressing concerns about due process, but House Bill 410 doesn't do either.

"It does not make sense for us to stop technology to stop people from breaking the law," Duffey said.

©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.