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Bill banning speed cameras alive again

A state Senate committee has resurrected a measure banning photo enforcement cameras on Arizona highways.

The measure was tacked on to a transportation bill that would make it easier for the state to create toll roads.

The package passed a Senate committee on a 4-0 vote Thursday with two lawmakers absent. There was no discussion of the speed camera provision, and lawmakers behind the measure could not immediately be reached.

Arizona lawmakers created the first statewide network of speed enforcement cameras last year.

Police had initially planned to deploy 100 cameras around the state but suspended their expansion after 36 fixed cameras and 42 mobile units were installed. Officers cited legislative efforts to eliminate the cameras.

The cameras are activated when a motorist drives by at speeds at least 11 mph above the posted speed limit. They have snapped about 700,000 photos in the program’s first five months.

The ban, which has been pushed by Rep. Sam Crump, a Republican from Anthem, would take effect Sept. 30, 2010.

Camera supporters, including the state Department of Public Safety, have said the devices improve safety by getting drivers to slow down on the state’s remote highways and sprawling urban freeways.

The cameras went online in September and quickly became a controversial topic around family kitchens and workplace watercoolers.

Critics say the cameras distract drivers and create unsafe conditions.

Arizonans have used sticky notes, Silly String and even a pickax in attempts to sabotage the cameras.

In April, a gunman fatally shot a Phoenix man who was operating a photo enforcement van. Police have not specified a motive, but many people have speculated that it stemmed from opposition to the cameras.

Authorities have charged a 68-year-old Phoenix man in the shooting. Thomas Patrick Destories has not commented.

House committees passed a similar photo enforcement ban earlier this year, but it languished among concerns about the costs of ending a two-year contract with camera operator RedFlex Traffic Systems. The latest iteration cancels the program after the contract expires.

The latest measure must pass the full Senate before going back to the House, which has already approved the transportation bill without the speed enforcement provision.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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