House bill proposes repeal of red light cameras

Ismael Perez By Ismael Perez

Dec. 29, 2016 at 11 p.m.
Updated Dec. 30, 2016 at midnight

Vehicles travel north on SH 35 and Half League Road in Port Lavaca. Port Lavaca has a red light camera program.

Vehicles travel north on SH 35 and Half League Road in Port Lavaca. Port Lavaca has a red light camera program.   Ana Ramirez for The Victoria Advocate

The Texas Legislature will consider a bill that repeals a law that allows red light cameras.

HB 113, from state Rep. Mark J. Keough, R-The Woodlands, would amend the part of the Transportation Code that allows automated traffic control system cameras to be used.

If the bill passes and the camera laws are repealed, it will allow people to report any cameras that are still set up.

"The bill affords the citizens of Texas to enforce the repeal of these cameras through the Attorney General's office," said Jason Millsaps, chief of staff for Keough.

Byron Schirmbeck, state coordinator for Texas Campaign for Liberty, who has worked on several bills to ban the cameras, said he thinks the bill is a great start and supports the enforcement the bill brings.

"Some companies tie it up in court for years, and the cameras don't go down at all," Schirmbeck said. "This bill will fine them for every day the camera is up."

A local authority that fails to comply is liable for a civil penalty, Millsaps said.

The bill states the first violation will charge the responsible group with a fine of no less than $1,000 and $10,000 for a second time and for the following days until the cameras come down.

Lt. Jason Sager, of the Victoria Police Department's patrol division, said Victoria does not use cameras at intersections.

He said they are usually found at intersections throughout bigger cities where millions drive by them daily.

According to photoenforced.com, Port Lavaca is the closest city to Victoria that has a red light camera program.

Port Lavaca Police Chief Colin Rangnow said the program has been in the city since 2008.

He said it was used to help promote public safety at intersections, and it has helped decrease accident rates since it started.

When a violator is captured by the camera, a picture of the license plate is sent to the company and then the citation is issued.

Millsaps said if violations are a public safety issue, they should be addressed by law enforcement itself, not through a camera.

"The companies only profit from the cameras; the last thing they want is to solve the problem," Schirmbeck said.


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