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Colorado lawmakers weigh ban on red-light, speeding traffic cameras

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Feb. 25, 2014 : This photo shows speed cameras aimed at U.S. Route 127 in New Miami, Ohio.AP

A proposal to ban red-light and speeding cameras in Colorado is back at the Capitol, and the bill sponsor says he has more support than when he pitched the idea two years ago.

The bill from Greeley Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe would forbid cities and towns from using the automated traffic enforcement devices. He introduced it Friday.

The measure is identical to what Renfroe sponsored in 2012. The Colorado Municipal League opposed that bill, saying it should be up to cities and towns to decide the matter on their own.

Renfroe argues the cameras are used to make money, not to improve public safety.

"I mean, it's exponential the amount of revenue that is brought in, and our intersections should be about safety and not about a revenue generator," he said.

Two years ago, Renfroe's proposal was defeated quickly at its first committee. But has more bipartisan support this year, including the backing of Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, who will sponsor the bill in that chamber if it passes the Senate.

Renfroe said he's concerned that with automated cameras, "the accused isn't confronted by their accuser, and that's a huge problem." He also argues there are other ways to improve safety at intersections, including modifying traffic signals so yellow lights last longer.

Ten states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The organization said Arkansas, New Jersey and Wisconsin outlaw photo radar, while seven states, including Maine, Mississippi and Montana, forbid red-light cameras to issue citations.

But traffic enforcement cameras are still widely used. According to the legislatures group, more than 400 communities in the country use red-light cameras, and more than 40 municipalities use cameras to enforce speeding limits.

The Colorado Municipal League, which represents more than 250 communities in the state, noted that Colorado municipalities have decided on their own whether to use traffic cameras in the past. The Colorado Municipal League said that's the way it should work, and the group also raised safety concerns about construction zones where cameras are used to try to deter speeders.

That group said on its website after the bill was introduced that it "is adamantly opposed to this regrettable legislation."