State considers punishing cities that use traffic, red-light cameras

11:01 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 News

State lawmakers are holding hearings today on a bill that would cut state funding to cities using speed and red-light cameras.

House Bill 410, sponsored by Cincinnati Republican Rep. Bill Seitz and Oakwood Rep. Jim Butler, would require cities to file all traffic camera cases in municipal court and would reduce state funding to cities by the same amount cities collect in traffic camera revenue.

The House Government and Accountability Committee is set to have its third hearing on the bill today.

Seitz authored an anti-traffic camera law that the Ohio Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional.

Related: Cities can turn red light cameras back on, court rules; state threatens to fight back

They have to pay the filing fee, bring in a lawyer and prove their case in court.

“No more administrative hearings where some employee of the city sits there and the poor motorist has to, in effect, prove his innocence in order to be acquitted of the civil citation,” Seitz said.

Under Seitz’ bill, the state will cut Local Government Fund money flowing to cities that use traffic enforcement cameras.

Small town could have to pay millions

New Miami speeders who are owed more than $3 million in unconstitutional fines are one step closer to collecting, following a 12th District Court of Appeals ruling.

The court has ruled this week that New Miami is not entitled immunity because the village gained funds by collecting fines under the old speed camera program, which has been declared unconstitutional.

RELATED: New Miami loses decision on speed cameras

Not first try

Previously, Seitz pushed through a law that required cities using traffic cameras to station a full-time police officer with each camera in use; conduct a three-year traffic study before deploying a camera; give speeders a “leeway” before issuing tickets.

Related: Cities fear rise in accidents if traffic camera use ends

Dayton challenged the 2015 law in court.

In a 5-2 decision issued in July, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that that law conflicts with cities’ home-rule authority. The Ohio Constitution gives municipalities self-governance powers as long as local ordinances don’t conflict with the state’s general laws.

Related: Dayton to activate red light cameras again

At the time of the supreme court ruling, Seitz promised that lawmakers would consider new legislation requiring cities go through municipal courts instead of an administrative process for tickets issued via traffic camera enforcement programs.

Seitz, who received a ticket when a camera caught him rolling through a right turn at a red light in Columbus, noted that lawmakers approved restrictions on photo enforcement cameras in 2006 and 2014 and voters in Cincinnati and Cleveland overwhelmingly approved limits or bans.