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Photo radar ban emerges again in Arizona Legislature

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A freshman Republican lawmaker has taken the lead in the Legislature’s yearly charge to eliminate photo radar and red light enforcement in Arizona.

Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert wants state law amended to bar use of the devices statewide. Lawmakers grabbed a small victory last year by banning its use on state highways.

The annual effort typically splits majority Republicans, with those backing cities’ efforts to cut down on speeding sparring with others who view the devices as either a Constitutional violation or simply unfair to drivers.

Grantham declined to comment on House Bill 2525 on Monday, saying he wanted to wait until a Wednesday hearing.

House Majority Whip Rep. Kelly Townsend said she has gone back and forth on the proposals for the past few years.

“The sentiment among my constituents is that they are against them,” Townsend said. “Earlier, two years before, I voted to keep them. And then the more I looked at them from a Constitutional perspective I had to agree that they are problematic from that angle.”

Last year, she sponsored legislation to ban the camera statewide but it failed in the House. Democrats and some Republicans joined to defeat her measure.

Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, said he supported last year’s ban on the use of cameras on state highways, but not the one banning use by cities and towns.

The state itself doesn’t run any photo enforcement programs. But the communities of Star Valley in Gila County and the western Phoenix suburb of El Mirage used them on local stretches of state highways.

“The issue with that bill for me isn’t the decision itself, it’s where the decision is being made,” Coleman said of Grantham’s proposal Tuesday. “I think that decision ought to be made at a local level.”

Photo enforcement is a passionate issue for many opponents.

Rep. Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, said he’s dead-set against photo radar, which he said takes human judgment out of the equation.

“It’s a principle issue,” Bowers said. “If you’re going to stop me and cite me with all the ramifications of a citation, I want it to be a person.”

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