Colorado lawmakers advance ban on red-light, speed cameras but time is running out

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DENVER — A push to ban speeding and red-light cameras in Colorado advanced out of a key House committee Friday, but supporters worry time is running out for the bill as the session nears its end.

"Time is a concern," said Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, the lawmaker carrying the bill in the House. For the bill to stand a chance, it needs to have approval in the House by early next week so the Senate can consider it, Humphrey said.

The legislative session ends May 6.

For years now, the idea of banning ban red-light and speeding cameras has been unsuccessful even when leaders in both chambers have expressed support. It's an issue that has created alliances among legislators from both parties in support and opposition.

The proposal on Friday cleared the House Appropriations Committee, where it had been stuck for several weeks amid discussions that there could be a competing bill to study the issue instead of passing a ban.

Supporters call the cameras revenue generators that do little to improve public safety. They've also argued the automated traffic-enforcement devices undermine drivers' rights to confront their accuser.

Attempts to ban the cameras are met with staunch opposition from law enforcement officials who insist that the devices are needed to deter accidents at busy intersections. Municipalities also oppose the bill, saying it should be left to them to decide whether to use the cameras.

Humphrey said the bill has support to clear both chambers, but worries there will be an effort to turn the bill into a study.

"I certainly don't think we need one on red-light cameras. I think we know what we need to know," he said.

Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon of Denver, one of 10 cities that use some form of automated traffic-enforcement device in the state, is considering a study of the cameras' effectiveness.

"I think there is some data that supports their use," Pabon said. "There's also data that cuts against their use and merely serve as revenue generator for a particular police department or a city."

To try to compromise with opponents, Humphrey said he'll try to amend his bill to let municipalities ask voters if they want cameras at certain locations.

As Humphrey's bill advanced, Senate lawmakers on Friday introduced their own bill addressing traffic cameras. Their proposal would require local governments to have voter approval for the cameras. Local governments that continue using the cameras without voter approval would lose state highway funding.

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