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Texas Lawmakers Want to Shut Down Grandfathered Red-Light Cameras

Despite a statewide ban approved by the Texas State Legislature in 2019, four Texas cities still have active contracts with photographic enforcement companies.
May 7, 2021, 7am PDT | Diana Ionescu | @aworkoffiction
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Nicholas Eckhart

Opponents of red-light cameras in Texas, whose lobbying efforts led to a statewide ban on photographic enforcement at intersections in 2019, are zeroing in on four cities that had grandfathered contracts with red-light camera companies. As Dug Begley reports in the Houston Chronicle, "The 2019 ban allowed for any city that had a contract with a photo enforcement company that did not include termination language related to statewide bans to keep them."

Lawmakers now want to end the remaining contracts, but state law doesn't allow cities to "simply void contracts they do not like." Ending the red-light camera contracts, writes Begley, could cost cities like Humble $50,000 a month, "a sum the small city cannot simply absorb."

Opponents have criticized red-light cameras as vulnerable to corruption in what has been termed "privatized law enforcement," but others argue that the programs save lives by reducing right-angle crashes and reducing the need for traffic safety by the police. "In response to opponents, lawmakers over the years have stripped virtually all the penalties for not paying red-light camera violations. Failure to pay cannot be reported to a credit agency, it has no effect on renewing a vehicle or driver’s license and it cannot land the person in civil court."

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Published on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 in The Houston Chronicle
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