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Mississippi Legislature Votes to Ban Red Light Cameras

March 5, 2009

Mississippi Legislature Votes to Ban Red Light Cameras
Mississippi Senate joins state House in voting to ban red light and speed cameras. Only three lawmakers voice support for the devices.

Mississippi SenateOnly three lawmakers in the entire Mississippi state Legislature are willing to put themselves on record in support of red light cameras and speed cameras. Without opposition, the state Senate passed legislation yesterday that would put an immediate halt to the plans of several municipalities interested in implementing new photo ticketing programs. The vote followed last month’s 117-3 passage of a similar ban in the state House

State senators, however, did not believe that the House language went far enough. The legislation was amended to take effect immediately rather than wait until July 2009 as the state House had voted to do. The Senate would also give Columbus and Jackson until October 1 to tell Redflex Traffic Systems and American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the private vendors operating the programs, to pack their bags and take down the systems currently in operation. The Senate legislation explicitly forbids counties and municipalities like McComb, Natchez, Southaven and Tupelo from adopting or enforcing any ordinance allowing automated enforcement.

The bill now returns to the state House. Under that chamber’s rules, if 117 representatives vote to accept the revisions, the bill goes straight to Governor Haley Barbour (R) for his signature and enactment. Otherwise, Speaker of the House William J. McCoy (D-Alcorn) will appoint three members to a conference committee that will work out compromise language with three senators appointed by Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant (R). The compromise product, known as the conference report, would then come up for an up-or-down vote in both chambers under expedited procedures.

Upon Barbour’s signature, Mississippi would join Alaska, Arkansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin which have also banned automated citations through judicial or legislative action. A similar ban passed the Montana state House of Representatives last month and currently awaits Senate action. An attempt to ban cameras in Missouri ran into a roadblock in a state Senate committee.

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