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New speed camera bill would set 2010 repeal

PHOENIX – Arizona’s groundbreaking program deploying speed cameras on highways statewide wouldn’t be eliminated until July 2010 under new legislation proposed by a lawmaker who originally wanted an immediate repeal.

Republican Rep. Sam Crump of Anthem said Wednesday he rewrote his bill (HB2106) because colleagues were worried about potential liability to the state resulting from an immediate repeal during the middle of the two-year contract.

The contract with the company running the Department of Public Safety speed camera program requires state payments if it is canceled before it runs out in 2010.

The change provides “a soft landing” for all concerned, Crump said.

The new version of Crump’s bill also contains numerous provisions imposing new requirements and restrictions on signs, enforcement practices and other aspects of the program before it expires.

Crump and other legislators have said the program is fraught with real and potential problems, including concerns about alleged legal shortcomings, dangerous distractions to drivers and possible misuse of video.

Aside from concerns about the program itself, the manner in which it was authorized at the behest of Democratic then-Gov. Janet Napolitano irritated many Republican legislators because she included it into a budget law that was passed over their objections.

Napolitano cited safety considerations in ordering the DPS in 2007 to begin planning the program, but critics contend its creation actually was motivated by revenue concerns.

Since being launched last September, the program now has deployed most of the planned 100 stationary and mobile cameras.

DPS officials have said they were neutral on Crump’s original bill but that cameras slow traffic and save lives while freeing up officers to tackle other problems.

New provisions of the bill include prohibiting speed-camera citations for violations under 11 mph above the posted limit, requiring additional warning signs for motorists, prohibiting placement of cameras near changes in speed limits and allowing use of cameras’ video only for criminal investigations and prosecutions.

The House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to hear the new version Wednesday but the chairman – Republican Rep. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills – postponed consideration until next week.

Kavanagh said later that the bill needs “more work,” but Crump said he didn’t think the delay spelled trouble for the bill, which he said now enjoys strong support among majority Republicans.

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