Legislation to ban Photo Enforcement

photo: The Republic
photo: The Republic

In what has become an annual ritual, a certain cadre of Republican state legislators bring forth numerous bills designed to limit / curtail / eliminate photo enforcement. This posting covers the 52nd Legislature, 1st Regular session’s activities, that is the Spring of 2015.

The most obvious, and direct of these bills is Kelli Ward’s (R-Lake Havasu City) SB1167 – photo radar; prohibition [traditional view][apps view]  which simply revokes the authority to use such a device anywhere within Arizona — since the state already does not use any photo enforcement, the effect of the legislation is to revoke city’s and county’s authority to use such. At he time of the full Senate vote, the Arizona Republic did a pretty good writeup:

The issue drew bipartisan opposition, despite the argument from Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, that photo enforcement is unconstitutional and infringes on individual privacy… Safety, and an acknowledgment that local government is better able to gauge its traffic needs, prevailed as four GOP senators joined with the Democrats to kill Senate Bill 1167. Cities and towns lobbied against Ward’s bill, pointing to statistics that they say show the cameras, especially when used for red-light enforcement, cut accidents. … Ward, however, disputed many of the statistics and said the greater issue is what she perceives as the unconstitutionality of photo enforcement in the first place.Such devices, she said, collect information without the consent of the driver that can be stored by private companies and governments for later use, and they infringe on privacy rights. “You have no right to face your accuser,” when photo enforcement is used, she said. – azcentral.com

So the chronology of SB1167 is it was introduced and assigned to the Senate Public Safety committee (it’s actually public safety, Miliatry and Technology) where it passed with little dissent. That is was “single” assigned indicates leadership wants the bill to pass (and one does wonder why it wasn’t assigned to, or also to, transportation?). In any event, it then failed a full-senate vote Feb 23 of 13-15. At which point the bill dies.

The Striker

or did it? So there’s this maneuver where you take a bill, i mean another bill, and amend it by eliminating that entire bill (in the parlance, eliminated language is represented as struck through) and substituting some other language, in this case the entirety of what was SB1167 was inserted into SB1192 [traditional view][apps view]  which passed the senate but was otherwise stuck in the house. The so-called Strike Everything Amendment was proposed by Rep Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) and failed in committee on Mar 19th (the Gov’t and Higer Education committee, by the way); with some justified complaints that it, the striker, was put on the agenda with only one day’s notice.

Some news story: Last-minute lawmaking: Expedient or opaque?

Until Thursday, almost everyone at the state Capitol thought the effort to do away with photo enforcement was dead.
Except for Rep. Bob Thorpe and Sen. Kelli Ward. The two Republicans quietly transformed one of Ward’s bills into a measure that would prevent cities and towns from using cameras to enforce traffic laws.
The result was no more successful than the first run at a camera ban: With one day’s notice, a House committee voted to kill Senate Bill 1192.

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What of the Constitution?

I don’t know. I tend to think it, photo enforcement, is constitutional since it merely observes things happening in public; and that the “face your accuser” argument is particularly silly (is surveillance video unconstitutional, too?). But it would be interesting to find out, I mean for real.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell, it is impossible to appeal any civil traffic violation in Arizona above Superior Court. This, to my mind, is a more pressing / important problem for freedom and liberty, etc… And wonder why Senator Ward, and Rep Thorpe are not addressing this issue?

The technical reason is explained in Arizona v. Banahan where the Court wrote that they are barred by law from accepting jurisdiction for such an appeal — well, writing the laws is the legislator’s wheelhouse… why not make it so that citizen’s could bring constitutional challenges?