Friday, January 23, 2009

Lawmaker Files Bill to Ban Red-Light Cameras in Missouri

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 9:30 AM

State Senator Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis/St. Louis County) introduced a measure this week that would ban the use of red-light cameras in Missouri. If passed by the General Assembly and approved by Gov. Jay Nixon, Lembke's bill (SB 211) would become law in late August.

A group calling itself Missourians Against Red Light Cameras (MARLC) is championing the bill. The organization was founded about six months ago by Webster University employee Jesse Irwin and ex-Gov. Matt Blunt's former chief-of-staff, Ed Martin. Irwin tells me that if the bill fails to gain traction with state legislators, MARLC plans to start a signature campaign in St. Louis to get a similar measure on the city ballot. 

"I don't think there is any way voters in St. Louis would vote in favor of these cameras," says Irwin, who notes that much of the money generated from the tickets goes to American Traffic Solutions (ATS), company in Arizona that owns and maintains the cameras.

"This isn't about making us safer. It's about generating revenue. I challenge the city of St. Louis to produce a list of its most dangerous intersections and explain why those weren't the first to get cameras." 

Irwin (bless his heart) says he was inspired to found MARLC after reading my coverage of red-light cameras in Riverfront Times. In 2006 I exposed how ATS paid big-name lobbyists to get favored treatment in Missouri. The company's lawyers even helped write the legislation that allowed the use of red-light cameras in St. Louis.

Last year I uncovered that the city's cameras were not necessarily installed in the "most dangerous" intersections and that the city had no legal authority to enforce the tickets.  

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