A statewide coalition of grassroots activists presented a letter to Governor Abbott today, asking him to add a Red Light Camera Ban to his call for the upcoming special session.
Activists Kelly Canon of Tarrant County, and Kelli Cook of Montgomery County hand-delivered the letter to Abbott’s office this morning and posted the video on Facebook.
The letter pointed to the Governor’s own words from his 2013 election, when he compared the cameras to an Orwellian domestic surveillance program, saying:
“Big brother is not only collecting and selling your information,
he is also watching you as you drive through traffic lights.”
They then summarized their petition: “We need your support to ban red light cameras, period.”
Red light cameras represent a serious divide between elected officials and the citizens they represent, demonstrated by the fact that poll after poll shows the cameras to be wildly unpopular, yet the state continues to permit their existence.
In fact, the Republican Party Platform calls for a statewide ban, yet the Republican-controlled legislature has opted not to enact it.
One by one, cities around the state have been banning the cameras because of public outcry and local activism. Houston and Arlington are among the state’s largest cities to ban them.
But local bans aren’t enough for the dozens of big name letter-signers whose number includes former Texas Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul, State Representative Kyle Bierdermann, and Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright, as well as leaders of local Tea Parties and statewide groups like Campaign for Liberty, Texas Eagle Forum, and Grassroots America.
Activists point to data suggesting that the cameras do not improve public safety. They point to reports that cities like Chicago, IL have been caught shortening yellow light times to increase camera ticket profit. They also complain that the cameras violate the Constitution because you have no ability to face your accuser in court, because your accuser is a machine.
In 2017, SB 87 and SB 88 (both by Sen. Bob Hall) were the two bills that gained any traction at all, and they were both killed in the House.
SB 87 would have removed the teeth from ticket enforcement, and SB 88 was intended to phase the cameras out altogether.
Rep. Geanie Morrison chaired the House’s Transportation Committee, and didn’t bring either one to a public hearing before the deadline.
Camera ban activists have been very public with their calls to replace her in the coming Republican Primary, but no challenger has announced a run for the seat for now.
If you haven’t already, please vote in our poll and let us know if you want the cameras to stay or go!
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