The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 27, 2013

Ohio House approves proposed red-light camera ban

COLUMBUS — Law enforcement authorities across Ohio would not be able to use cameras to determine whether drivers have run red lights or driven over the speed limit under a measure endorsed Wednesday by members of the state’s House.  

Lawmakers approved the measure by a 61-32 vote. Supporters touted it as a way to eliminate the abuse of the cameras that some municipalities have seen.

Local governments have installed cameras with the purpose of swelling their coffers through ticket fines, but not to increase public safety, said the sponsor of the measure, Lebanon Republican Rep. Ron Maag.

“It is unacceptable to allow these cameras to pry on citizens this way,” Maag said.

Critics of the ban said the cameras prevent accidents and save lives.

“What are we trying to do in jeopardizing and eliminating safety because we are so worried about traffic tickets?” said Rep. Robert Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown.

A common pleas judge in March invalidated an ordinance in Elmwood Place, a Cincinnati suburb, criticizing the cameras and the thousands of $105 citations that resulted from their installation.  

“Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of three-card monty,” Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman wrote in his decision. “It is a scam the motorist cannot win.”

He ruled that the tickets violate motorists’ constitutional rights to due process and said the village’s enforcement was stacked against drivers. The village began using the cameras in September, resulting in some 6,600 speeding citations in the first month, triple the number of village residents. Revenues that are shared with the company that operates the cameras quickly topped $1 million.

The proposed legislation includes an exemption for school zones, where cameras would be allowed to operate during school recess, opening and closing hours provided that a police officer is present.

Several leaders of law enforcement organizations testified against the proposal Tuesday before a committee that analyzed the bill. They acknowledged that cameras do generate revenue for their localities. They said, however, that the money in some cases is used by the departments to purchase equipment, implement new programs or hire more officers.

More than a dozen Ohio cities use traffic-enforcement cameras. Some were installed to detect motorists who run lights, and others to track speed. In some cities, the cameras have both functions.

Local governments and the companies that set up the cameras split the revenue from the tickets. The 40 cameras set in 38 intersections in Columbus yielded the city $2 million last year, according to the city’s police department. Cleveland collected nearly $6 million during the same period.

Backers of the measure also fiercely criticized on Wednesday the inequality created by the way camera-generated tickets are processed. Unlike tickets written by police officers, camera-issued tickets are not criminal offenses, do not count against a person’s driving record and are not reported to a driver’s insurance company.  

The House’s approval moved the bill to the state’s Senate for further discussion.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Study finds 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 30, 2014

  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

  • Bill in Congress to help veterans with PTSD

    A group of lawmakers have joined together to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and other war injuries get speedy medical treatment — and avoid Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy and Department of Defense lack of accountability.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists also has crossed the border.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video