"Tri-Cities governments asked Northeast Tennessee lawmakers Friday to oppose legislation hindering development of red light/traffic enforcement cameras.
The request, called the “fun topic of the day” by Kingsport City Manager John Campbell, was among a number of legislative policy marching orders given to lawmakers by elected officials representing Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol, Tenn., during a presentation held at the Millennium Centre.
After the presentation, lawmakers indicated that doing nothing about the cameras is probably not an option this year.
“There are a lot of bad actors out there, a lot of smaller municipalities which are installing speed cameras solely for the purpose of operating their general functions of government. ... These cameras should not be used for revenue enhancement,” said House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol. “I think potentially, at the very least, we may put a moratorium on the operation of any new cameras before the end of this session.” Mumpower has already filed a number of pieces of traffic camera legislation."
"Two lawmakers on the House Transportation Committee, state Reps. Tony Shipley and Matthew Hill, have been dead center in the middle of the traffic camera debate.
Shipley, R-Kingsport, is seeking new attorney generals’ opinions on the constitutionality of the cameras.
“It’s not so much the camera. It’s the process and procedures (used by local officials),” said Shipley.
Said Hill, R-Jonesborough: “No one has ever said ‘We’re not for safety.’ The issue comes down to just respect for our citizens. ... We have to find a balance between those two.”
The state is looking into ways to make use of cameras meet the same criteria statewide. A common suggestion is that by extending the time of a yellow caution light, accidents will be greatly reduced. But the Tri-Cities folks want that left alone too.
Complaints and concerns remain as well since these projects are clearly a privatization of a law enforcement function, and once we are comfortable with such practices, then expect more to appear.
Michael at No Silence Here outlines the legislative issues regarding the use of these cameras from Rep. Shipley.
I'm pretty sure if the state can figure out a way to get steady income from cities and towns using such cameras, then expect their use to spread.