COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Local governments across Ohio would be banned from using cameras to determine whether motorists have run red lights or been speeding under a legislative proposal approved by an Ohio House committee Tuesday.
The House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee voted 9-4 to move the measure to the full House for consideration after lengthy testimony from proponents of the bill who said cameras have turned into cash generators for municipalities and critics who said the technology can prevent accidents.
The heads of various Ohio police departments spoke against the measure. They acknowledged the cameras do generate money for municipalities, but they said in some cases the revenue is reallocated to police departments to purchase equipment or hire more officers.
Columbus Police Lt. Brent Mull said the city's 40 cameras generated $2 million last year. After the committee approved the measure, he said this revenue pays for, among other things, the department's gang unit and vehicles in the traffic bureau.
He credited the cameras for the complete eradication of traffic accidents in some intersections in the city.
Backers of the ban said the fact that camera-generated tickets are civil infractions - which are not counted against someone's driving record or reported to a driver's insurance company - create an unfair situation for motorists, as traffic tickets issued by police officers are criminal offenses.
More than a dozen Ohio cities use traffic-enforcement cameras.