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By W. Gardner Selby May 20, 2015

Lawmakers curb Abbott call for law enabling voters to repeal red-light cameras

Speeding toward election as governor, Greg Abbott said state law should permit voters in cities and counties to repeal ordinances that result in drivers getting caught on camera running stoplights.

Texas law has allowed communities to install red-light cameras since 2003, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said in an April 2015 news story previewing a vote in Arlington by which nearly 60 percent of voters endorsed a repeal of that city's red-light camera ordinance. The story indicated many Texas cities have red-light cameras. (Austin runs red-light cameras at 10 intersections, the city says on a web page listing locations.)

Critics say the cameras "go too far, letting government invade Texans' privacy, monitoring movements and raking in cash for cities that use them at high-traffic intersections," the story said. "Some violators say they weren't caught running a red light, just not coming to a full stop before turning right on red. Supporters say that the cameras help uphold the law and that they're working, reducing accidents and deaths and generating money for cities and states. They say drivers can't reasonably expect privacy on a public road," the story said.

Abbott did not call for red-light cameras to be banished. However, he said in his compendium of campaign promises, different cities have handled petitions to throw out red-light camera ordinances differently with not all cities offering a clear path to repeal. So, Abbott urged, state law should require a local repeal referendum if at least 10 percent of the number of voters participating in the latest gubernatorial or presidential election sign a petition seeking the vote.

Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Bryan, offered a similar proposal, House Bill 1710, in the 2015 legislative session. He told members of the House Transportation Committee during an April 30, 2015, hearing that currently, "not all cities have a clear path to repealing red-light cameras." His legislation provided for a repeal referendum should 10 percent of a community's registered voters sign a petition seeking such a vote.

Then again, there was no further action on the measure.

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