Photo radar ban a bust again, fails to get hearing in 2 Senate committees

Paulina Pineda//April 2, 2018

Photo radar ban a bust again, fails to get hearing in 2 Senate committees

Paulina Pineda//April 2, 2018

photo radar620

Another year, another failed effort in the Legislature to ban red light and speed enforcement cameras statewide.

HB2208, sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, was never heard in the Senate, despite a last-ditch effort to revive the bill.

Grantham’s bill would have prohibited municipal and state police from using photo radar equipment to catch red light runners and speeders.

Part of an annual effort at the Arizona Legislature to bar the use of photo radar and red light cameras, this is the second time Grantham has introduced legislation seeking to outlaw traffic enforcement cameras.

Last year, the freshman lawmaker’s measure got through the House but failed to receive a hearing in the Senate.

This year, HB2208 barely managed to scrape by in the House, 31-27, with Republican Reps. Doug Coleman, of Apache Junction, Maria Syms, of Scottsdale, and Bob Thorpe, of Flagstaff, voting against the measure.

But unlike last year, Grantham told his colleagues that he’d been assured the bill would get a “fair hearing” in the Senate this time around.

That wasn’t the case.

The bill, originally assigned to the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee, never received a hearing. It was withdrawn from the committee on March 21 after Chairman Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, failed to schedule it on the agenda, and was referred to the Appropriations Committee.

Committees met for the last time last week, however, the Appropriations committees in both chambers met one last time this week, giving several measures a new lease on life.

But despite a second chance in the Senate, the bill was not heard in the Appropriations Committee. Chairman John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said while he would have given it a hearing because he is in
favor of banning photo enforcement cameras, staff only transferred the bill to Appropriations in case it could be used as a vehicle for another bill.

Grantham said while some lawmakers were hoping he would offer it up as a “striker,” or an amendment that strikes the entire content of a bill and replaces it with the language of another bill, he wasn’t willing
to do that.

“I’m not looking to offer it up as a vehicle for something else. That’s not why I ran the bill and that’s not what the bill was for,” he said. “I want the bill to be heard in its present form for what it is.”

Grantham said he is frustrated with the fate of the measure, and he added that the Senate played “hot potato” with his bill by moving it from one committee to another.

He said he’s unsure why Worsley has been unwilling to give it a chance, adding that Worsley has never given him a reason.

Worsley did not immediately return a request for comment.

Next year, Grantham said, he’s considering introducing a concurrent resolution and referring the question of whether to ban photo radar systems to the ballot.

“I think a lot of people would be in favor of banning them, if you put it to the voters,” Grantham said.

Another bill targeting photo radars, SB1110, fared a different fate. It was unanimously approved by both chambers and transferred to the Governor’s Office on March 28.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, would require police to review evidence captured by a photo enforcement system to determine whether a traffic violation occurred before a citation is issued. Photo enforcement companies would be prohibited from determining if the driver disobeyed traffic laws, and a violation of the requirement would be a class 1 misdemeanor.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Sen. John Kavanagh’s area of representation and incorrectly stated he was unaware HB2208 had been assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he chairs.