JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House narrowly voted to pass legislation Thursday that could let cities continue operating red-light and speed cameras, but only if they meet certain guidelines and get prior approval from state officials.
The Republican-led House sent the measure to the Senate with an 84-63 vote, a tally that is just three votes more than the minimum number required to pass a bill out of the chamber.
The measure would prevent drivers statewide from accruing penalty points for violations caught by a red-light or speed camera and would allow municipalities to fine drivers up to $135 for each ticket issued using a camera.
Sponsoring Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, said he opposes traffic cameras, but sponsored the bill because legislation to prohibit them has not garnered enough support in previous years. Supporters argued that his measure would streamline photo traffic enforcement throughout the state.
"They are here at this point. We need to do something to regulate them so that there are not all these different regulations and ordinances and fines and penalties," said Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Black Jack.
Opponents contend the bill would pave the way for more red-light cameras and that the Legislature should focus on prohibiting them altogether.
"This will legitimize them," said Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville. "They have no right to be here."
Many city ordinances already don't allow drivers to accrue penalty points from camera tickets, but those policies have been the subject of ongoing legal battles. Some municipalities have temporarily stopped using the cameras until the legal issues have been settled.
Appeals courts have ruled that drivers convicted of moving violations must receive penalty points under current state law. But the House bill would provide a legal way to punish moving violations without assessing points.