Bill to shut off Texas red light cameras passes through Senate

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 18:54:36-04

A bill that would eliminate the use of red-light cameras at stoplights in Texas is headed to the Governor’s desk.

The author ofthe billJonathan Stickland and other lawmakers who have been at this for nearly a decade say the cameras violate a constitutional right of presumed innocence and to confront your accuser.

“We do not have the right to face our accuser, and I believe that studies have shown that when it comes to safety, the evidence does not suggest that cameras decrease accidents,” Strickland said House members, and that the cameras scare drivers into braking too quickly to avoid a ticket, which causes more rear-end collisions.

The bill, received objections from many city officials and local police officers who claim that fines associated with red-light cameras bring revenue to trauma care centers and reduce deadly accidents on Texas roads.

“We have a technological tool at our disposal to help save Texas lives,” representative Celia Israel told House members. “Since Nov. 7, 2000, over 66,000 Texans have lost their lives on our roadways… We are trying to avert the most serious, deadly types of accidents.”

As far as the trauma center funding goes, Edgewood representative Bob Hall told the Texas Tribune that their budgets writers have resolved that issue with a separate revenue stream.

HB 1631 tentatively passed in an overwhelming 108 to 35 vote before going to the Senate. The bill was then voted on and passed in the Senate with a 23 to 8 majority. The next step is Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.

According to the Texas Tribune, fines from red-light cameras accounted for $18.3 millionthat went to Texas’ trauma care in the 2017 fiscal year, and that $28 million would be cut from those trauma centers if the ban takes place over the next two years.

A provision in House Bill 1631 would allow the cameras to operate in cities until their contracts expire with their vendors.