Ohio lawmakers target use of traffic, red light cameras

Ohio lawmakers are now considering making it more difficult for cities to use traffic cameras to issue tickets.

House members this week added language to the pending transportation budget bill to would require cities to file all traffic camera cases in municipal court. Cities would no longer be allowed to use an administrative hearing to deal with drivers who contest the tickets.

The bill would also require cities to report to the state tax commissioners each year how much it collected in traffic camera ticket revenues. The state would then deduct that amount from how much that cities receives in state funding through the Local Government Fund. Cities that fail to report would lose all their LGF funding.

Related: Dayton mayor responds to lawmakers going after traffic cameras

In March 2015, a law took effect 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.

Dayton challenged the 2015 law in court.

In July 2017, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that the law conflicted 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.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley criticized the latest move by the legislature Wednesday.

“This is yet another example of the state legislature wasting their time attacking municipalities’ constitutional home rule authority instead of focusing on the issues that Ohioans care about most,” Whaley said. “The courts have consistently found that municipalities have the authority to protect public safety with these cameras, but the legislature continues to try to enact onerous barriers that will only result in taxpayer money being wasted.“

Related: Cities can turn back on light cameras, court rules

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