COLUMBIA - A House committee meet Tuesday to hear testimony about a bill that would ban red light cameras throughout Missouri.
State Rep. Bryan Spencer (R-Wentzville) sponsored House Bill 275. According to the Bill's language the new law, "Prohibits the use of automated traffic enforcement systems, and requires any political subdivision to complete or terminate any automated traffic enforcement contract within one year."
This is the third year the bill has been introduced but he said he is positive this is the year it will go through.
"If you go back and play Senator Todd Richardson's first floor speech, as speaker, it was listed as one of his top priorities is to pass a red-light camera ban," Spencer said.
Traffic light cameras have not had an easy road in Columbia or the state of Missouri.
In Columbia, red-light cameras operated in the city from 2009-2013
and from 2010-2013. The city stopped using the traffic light cameras in 2014 after several Missouri cities were taken to court for their enforcement of the traffic violations.
Some cases traveled up to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 2015, the Court struck down traffic light ordinances in Springfield, St. Peters and St. Louis. Although the Court found all three ordinances invalid, it did not rule specifically on the legality of the cameras themselves.
Spencer said, many cities like to sell traffic camera ordinances as a safety tool but often the evidence points the other way.
"If you look at a MoDOT study, that they've done on these red-light cameras, you can see that once they put the camera in overall accidents went up astronomically due to the fact that people are slamming on their breaks," he said.
He said another issue is how the ordinances are enforced.
"Are we going to allow other states and other entities to enforce Missouri laws? It's inappropriate to ask an entity from Australia to be enforcing the traffic laws here in the state of Missouri," Spencer said.
This leads to another issue where the revenue follows the source putting in the work.
"When you look at these camera contracts, you see that 60 percent goes to the camera company and only 40 percent goes to the municipality," he said.
Spencer presented these issues to a House committee chaired by Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville). After today's meeting, the chairman can decide to make amendments and then have the committee votes. From there it goes on the Rules committee, the the House floor, and then the Senate.
If HB 275 passes, state voters would still get the final stamp of approval for the ban to take effect.