Coloradans want real red light camera reform, not phony bills

Coloradans want real red light camera reform, not phony bills

DENVER—Yesterday, the Colorado Statesman reported state Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, plans to introduce a bill aimed at red light camera reform. The bill, however, according to state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, is a “non-starter.” Grassroots support for red light camera reform has grown since the governor’s vetoes of two widely bipartisan red light camera bills, and the public has become increasingly aware of red light camera corruption following the multi-state red light camera bribery scandal.

“We need real solutions, like the massively bipartisan bills the governor vetoed, that take these revenue collectors off the road, not phony bills that perpetuate this unsafe, unnecessary practice,” said Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado, a free market advocacy group. “It shouldn’t be about giving the governor what he wants, instead it should be about giving Coloradans what they want. These red light cameras breed corruption and there are disputing claims on whether they effectively increase safety overall.”

Karen Finley, the former CEO of red light camera company Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., a company accused of bribing officials in Colorado last year, pleaded guilty to bribing government officials over a period of eight years. Finley is now waiting to find out how long she will spend behind bars.

The Department of Justice probe is likely to extend into Colorado. Denver first set up red light cameras at intersections in 2008, when it hired Redflex Traffic Systems. The city council at that time approved a contract that would pay Redflex a maximum of $1.1 million annually.

Denver, a city with a population of 2,697,000, collects $6.5 million a year in fines from red-light cameras. Denver’s cameras target drivers for minor infractions, such as ticketing vehicles that stop with their front wheels slightly over the white line at intersections.

In 2011, this revenue-enhancing strategy increased citations by 465 percent, according to the Denver Post. Last year, Fort Collins collected about $650,000 in tickets and paid 60 percent of the funds to Redflex.

Hickenlooper vetoed House Bill 1098 earlier this summer, which said no jurisdiction could implement a new photo enforcement program without submitting the question to the local voters. HB 1098 had passed the House 40 to 23 and the Senate 21 to 14. He also vetoed Senate Bill 276, which was an outright ban on camera issued citations with the exception of tolls and was voted in favor by 38 to 25 in the House and 25 to 10 in the Senate.