Red-light cameras in Dallas and other Texas cities would be gradually turned off under legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate.
The measure by Sen. Bob Hall, a Republican whose district includes part of Dallas County, along with Rockwall and Kaufman counties, would initially prohibit the future use of the cameras at intersections. Existing camera programs would have to be shut down as contracts between cities and camera vendors expire.
Senators passed the bill on a 23-7 vote and sent it to the House, where it has a good chance of passing.
“This is a concept that sounded good on paper but failed miserably in real world application,” Hall said, citing strong opposition from the public to cities’ use of red-light cameras.
Hall argued that red-light cameras originally were “sold to the public as a tool to improve public safety with a carefully worded and cleverly designed sales pitch by corporations who expected to make great profits.”
But the red-light camera programs “trample on constitutional rights” while doing little to make roads safer, he said.
The bill in question is SB714. I don’t have any desire to re-litigate any of this, but for what it’s worth I don’t think the constitution has anything to say on this subject. I also see this as yet another attack on local control, which I’m not crazy about. All that said, if it passes the House, it passes the House. I think if it gets to a vote in the House it will pass, but given how crazy things have been so far, there’s no guarantee of that. I do find it interesting that this bill was passed with all but one Republican Senator voting for it, given that in the 2010 referendum in Houston, Republicans strongly supported red light cameras. Just a reminder that partisan preferences can and do change sometimes.