DENVER (AP) – Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill Wednesday that sought to ban red-light and speeding cameras in Colorado and another measure that would have required voters to approve use of the devices.
The proposals had bipartisan support from lawmakers who tried for years to ban or restrict the use of cameras designed to catch speeders and drivers who run red lights.
Opponents say the devices are revenue generators that invade privacy and don’t improve traffic safety.
Law enforcement officials counter that the cameras are important tools, and local governments argue that they should decide whether to use them.
“While not always popular, when used correctly, radar and red light cameras make roads safer,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these bills go too far.”
Hickenlooper urged lawmakers in his veto message to introduce legislation next year to limit the use of cameras to school and construction zones and high-traffic areas. He also directed the Colorado Department of Transportation to study the effectiveness of the cameras.
Ten cities in Colorado use traffic-enforcement cameras. Nationally, 10 states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Sen. Morgan Carroll, the leader of Senate Democrats and sponsor of the bill to ban the cameras, said she was disappointed by the governor’s vetoes.
“Putting police at intersections, rather than collecting and storing data indefinitely, would be safer and prevent more accidents,” she said.
Advancing Colorado, a free-market advocacy group, also criticized Hickenlooper for striking the proposals.
“I think we really have to look at the facts surrounding government surveillance and whether it really keeps anyone safe,” said Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of the group.
Legislative staffers who worked on the bills estimated municipalities would lose a combined $14.2 million the first year the cameras were banned.
Some praised the vetoes by Hickenlooper, including the Colorado Municipal League, which lobbies for local governments. The group’s executive director, Sam Mamet, said the governor’s action lets municipalities decide what to do about cameras.
“A city council is the proper forum to decide issues of local neighborhood traffic safety enforcement,” Mamet said.
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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