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Lawmakers want to ban Arizona highway speed cameras

Cities, counties would not be affected

PHOENIX – Arizona legislators on Wednesday proposed legislation to scuttle Arizona’s groundbreaking program of using speed enforcement cameras on highways.

The main sponsor, Republican Rep. Sam Crump of Anthem, said speed cameras are annoying, unfair, intrusive and even dangerous because of backups as motorists abruptly slow near cameras.

“It’s the No. 1 thing I’m hearing from constituents as well as people outside my district,” Crump said. “Arizona has a proud heritage of leaving its citizens alone to the greatest sense possible, and I find that the photo radar speed cameras are really a violation of that heritage.”

Passage would shut down a Department of Public Safety program launched in September. A contractor has deployed 69 of 100 planned mobile and stationary cameras that are triggered by radar or other sensors.

The bill would ban state and local cameras on state highways but not affect those used by municipalities or counties on local streets and roads.

Crump said the prohibition could take effect immediately upon the bill becoming effective. Or the shutdown could be done in stages by first slashing the fines to only the amount necessary to pay the contractor to satisfy any requirements in the two-year contract, he said.

Gov. Janet Napolitano, who proposed the first-in-the-nation statewide program in January 2007, said the cameras are intended to improve highway safety. Crump said it’s apparent the real motivation is ticket revenue.

A DPS spokesman, Lt. James Warriner, said Wednesday the agency takes no position on the bill, but thinks the cameras improve highway safety.

With some cameras still not deployed, Warriner said the agency is studying possible deployment of cameras on an additional Phoenix-area freeway but also is awaiting word from the incoming administration of Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer on whether she wants implementation of the program to continue.

For now, Warriner said, “We haven’t been told that they’re not going to do it.”

Brewer, who is expected to become governor next week upon the resignation of Napolitano to become U.S. Homeland Security secretary, has not staked out a position on the camera program.

However, Brewer told The Associated Press in a recent interview that she had heard lots of complaints from Arizonans about the program. Napolitano won authorization for the program in the state budget enacted in June over opposition by most majority Republican lawmakers.

The anti-camera bill was introduced by Crump and 11 other representatives.

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