State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Union, has prefiled a bill for next year’s legislative session to allow voters to decide whether red light cameras and other automated traffic control systems should be banned.

“That bill is about allowing the people to be the ultimate check and balance on a system that really in my opinion and a lot of other people’s opinion has gotten out of hand,” Curtman said.

There have been legal challenges to red light cameras in other areas.

Some cities define running red lights as a non-moving violation, which Curtman called, “totally absurd.” He said those cities are doing that so they can charge fees without violating other laws that require points to be assigned against someone’s license for a moving violation.

“I would call that an abuse,” he said.

Now the courts are spending taxpayer dollars to determine whether moving through a red light constitutes a moving violation, he added.

“The people are tired of it,” Curtman said.

The city of Washington used to have red light cameras but has stopped using them.

Curtman said he does not think the red light cameras contribute to public safety. 

A study out of Kansas City found that camera-monitored lanes accounted for a higher traffic collision rate, he said.

He thinks that’s because the cameras can make people nervous. Rather than proceeding through a yellow light, the drivers may hit the brakes sharply and increase rear-end crashes, he said.

“I’m not sure it contributes to an increase in public safety,” he said.

Moreover, Curtman said he has “an issue in general in terms of government intrusion into our privacy.”

He said it is up to a city whether it needs to put a camera in a spot where there has been a crime problem. But he said he has a problem if cities are using the cameras to catch violators as a means to create revenue.

Other Bills

Curtman also has prefiled several other bills going into the legislative session.

One would require utility companies to offer customers on fixed incomes a reasonable payment schedule and waive late charges if a customer complies with the plan.

A person with a fixed income would be defined as someone whose main source of income is from Social Security, disability or other government programs.

“The last thing we want to do is put our fixed-income citizens in a position where they constantly accumulate more fees and penalties . . .” Curtman said.

Another bill prefiled by Curtman would take a portion of the money the state is saving on energy and put it toward further efficiency upgrades.

“What we don’t want to do is take the money we save and then just use it to grow government,” Curtman said. “We want to make sure that we use a little bit of it to go right back into programs that allow us to continue saving money.”

For instance, he said the money in the fund could be used to put energy-efficient technology in a building.

Curtman also filed a bill to create a vehicle fleet maintenance plan to reduce government vehicle costs.

“There’s not a single politician or bureaucrat in the state of Missouri that can actually pinpoint how many vehicles the state actually owns, and I see that as a problem,” Curtman said.

Also, Curtman filed a bill to allow political subdivisions and the state to collaborate with the private sector to meet infrastructure needs. The goal is to save money and not burden the taxpayers with more debt and higher taxes, he said. It also could lead to projects getting done faster and with a higher degree of quality since the “work ethic” of the private sector would be involved, Curtman added.

Florida, California, New Jersey and Virginia have used this method, he said.

Curtman has also prefiled a bill in hopes of saving taxpayer money by having underwriters compete when cities and political subdivisions want to issue general obligation bonds.