Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Missouri Red-Light Camera Judge: "Missouri House Bill 1557 Is A Ruse To Legitimize Red-Light Cameras -- Indirect Tax Bill Must Be Killed"

Jefferson City, MO February 18, 2014

Red-Light Camera Judge warns Missouri State Senators and Representatives that Rep. Hinson Seeks To Raise Taxes; HB1557 Is An Indirect Tax, Says Bill Must Be Killed.

Former red-light camera judge Mike Carter testifies
Former red-light camera judge Mike Carter testifies
"Without a doubt, Missouri House Representative Hinson wants to raise taxes throughout the state of Missouri -- although he may not want to call it that. His House Bill 1557 will allow cities throughout the state to continue to indirectly tax unsuspecting motorists when their cars (regardless of whether they are driving) make a slow right turn on a red-light signal, that's the majority of these camera tickets

And we're not talking a small tax here; Kansas City and St. Louis have already collected TENS OF MILLIONS of DOLLARS," says former red-light camera judge Mike Carter. 

The former red-light camera judge was in Jefferson city two weeks ago to support another House Bill (HB 1533) that would prohibit the use of red-light cameras to indirectly tax the citizens of Missouri.

"Simply put, these automated camera ticketing systems allow elected representatives to dodge the I-voted-for-a-tax-increase bullet while professing to be hyper concerned about the plague of red-light camera running and public safety. It is so un-Missouri like. What happened to
SHOWing ME what you actually want to do," griped Carter.

Carter points out that contracting with out-of-state entities to do the State of Missouri's police work is just the tip of the iceberg as concerns the negatives of automated camera ticketing law enforcement. He points out that he has personally conducted polls of millions of Missouri voters by phone and that the citizens do not like automated-camera law enforcement. 

Among other things, voters complain that a camera does not allow for a full field of vision when an officer reviews video footage, the cameras are a revenue grab, cameras at intersections make drivers uncomfortable in general, red-light cameras increase rear-end collisions, cameras make drivers nervous as they approach intersections, bright powerful strobe lights shock and interfere with drivers' vision, voters uncomfortable with private entities entering the criminal justice system, there is no meaningful appellate process, they feel the tickets are designed to be a pest that is easier to pay than endure the aggravation of fighting for one's rights, and voters say they are losing respect for their elected representatives.

TheNewsPaper.com Reports:
Red light camera and speed camera companies in Missouri are very afraid. In 2006, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) deployed cameras in the city of Arnold in 2006 without waiting for legislative approval, against the advice of the firm's own legal counsel (view legal memo). Now the courts have caught up to the situation. In the past six weeks, the state Court of Appeals has issued four separate opinions finding photo enforcement programs in violation of state law, and local judgeshave issued injunctions. The state Supreme Court is unlikely to be sympathetic, as it struck down the photo ticketing program in Springfield in 2010 (view ruling). The state House Rules Committee will decide later today whether to let ATS off the hook.
In light of the situation, some Missouri state lawmakers are doing their best to rescue ATS. After taking a $800 in campaign donations from the company (most recently on December 11), state Representative Dave Hinson (R-St. Clair) introduced a bill that would instantly clear the photo enforcement industry's legal troubles, if enacted. The measure cleared the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee last week and is scheduled for a Rules Committee hearing later today.
"Any conviction for an infraction based solely upon evidence obtained from an automated traffic enforcement system shall not have a point value... and no court having jurisdiction over such violations shall forward a record of any plea or finding of guilt of any person in the court for such infraction to the department of revenue," House Bill 1557 states.

The ban on the issuance of points overturns the Court of Appeals ruling that found, in the absence of action by the General Assembly, photo tickets were invalid because they do not issue license points. House Bill 1557 is couched in language that appears to limit the use of cameras, which was the technique that photo enforcement lobbyists used in Tennessee to sneak through legislative approval for red light cameras and speed cameras in 2008. Both the state attorney general (view opinion) and Tennessee Court of Appeals (view ruling) found that the "no points" language constituted a legislative blessing for the use of red light cameras and speed cameras that dismissed all legal action against the photo ticketing firms retroactively. 

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