Colorado lawmakers advanced a measure to ban red-light and speeding cameras, but they’re facing strong opposition from local governments and police.
A Senate committee approved the measure, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, on a bipartisan 3-2 vote Monday, referring it for a full debate in the chamber later. The bill will now move onto the Senate floor.
“We can restore privacy and due process, and hopefully bring safety into the equation at our intersections,” Renfroe told Windsor Now in a phone interview late Monday afternoon. “This is about safety.”
Two state senators — Bernie Herpin, R-Manitou Springs, and Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch — from the Senate’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, supported the bill, as did state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City. The two state senators who opposed the measure were Matt Jones, D-Louisville, and Irene Aguilar, D-Denver.
The bill would forbid cities and towns from using the automated traffic enforcement devices.
The Colorado Municipal League, which represents more than 250 communities in the state, says it should be up to cities and towns to decide the matter on their own, and that the cameras are important to public safety. Several police chiefs testified in opposition of the bill also.
Supporters of the bill argue the cameras are used to generate revenue, not improve public safety.
“I’m excited. One thing I say a lot about the cameras is a red light camera will take a picture, but it doesn’t tell the story,” Renfroe said. “You should have that right to confront your accuser, and have that due process, the two things that are constitutionally guaranteed to you. Those aren’t given to you with a red-light camera ticket or a photo radar ticket. We should be about safety and not revenue at our intersections.”
Prime sponsors of the bill on the House side are Colorado Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino and state Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Severance.
This is the third straight year Renfroe has introduced the ban on the red-light cameras, and in the past the bills have failed to make it out of the Senate. State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, is also a co-sponsor on the bill. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, is the prime sponsor on the Senate side along with Renfroe.
Renfroe said there could be several reasons why the bill advanced.
“I think the privacy concerns nationally of things that have come up with our government has piqued the interest of a lot of people,” Renfroe said. “I’ve had support in the past, but people were not willing to come onto the bill and it not getting out of committee. This year with the change in leadership in the Senate and the numbers, I think that impacted the willingness.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.