Legislators kill bill to ban cameras at red lights

DENVER — A bill that would have outlawed the use of cameras to nab people who run red lights was gutted, and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino thinks it will stay that way.

The Denver Democrat is the House sponsor of SB181, a controversial measure that cleared the Senate last week on a bipartisan 21-14 vote.

On Monday, the panel Ferrandino sent the bill to, the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, amended it to be nothing more than a study.

Though Ferrandino still plans to try to restore it to its original wording, he’s not hopeful he has the votes to do so.

“There is not conclusive evidence that these cameras are actually increasing public safety, but there was heavy lobbying from law enforcement and mayors,” Ferrandino said. “Between the arguments of public safety and the arguments of local control, I think they won the day. Just because I’m speaker doesn’t mean I always get my way.”

As it reads now, the measure, which was introduced by Sens. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, directs the Colorado Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the use of the cameras to determine how, or even if, they help protect the public.

Some supporters of the measure say red-light cameras have been abused by such cities as Denver, turning them into a means to generate revenue rather than protect motorists from those who would run red lights.

Ferrandino’s measure wasn’t the only bill to get watered down or outright killed this week.

In the Senate, two controversial measures were torpedoed, including one calling for a study of the health and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

Opponents feared that measure, HB1297, was only intended to gather fodder to ban the practice of fracking. It passed in the House earlier this month on a 38-27 vote, with only one Republican, Rep. Jared Wright of Fruita, joining Democrats favoring it.

Two Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sens. Mary Hodge of Brighton and Pat Steadman of Denver, joined three Republicans on the seven-member panel to ax the bill.

The other measure was HB1124, a bill designed to offer in-state college tuition to out-of-state Native Americans whose tribes have a historical link to the state, such as the Arapaho, Navajo and Shoshone tribes.

The bill, which would have cost the state about $5 million, died in the same committee, with Hodge joining Republicans in opposing it.


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