COMMITTEE APPROVES RED LIGHT CAMERA BAN
|Senator Bob Hall of Edgewood sponsored the bill to eliminate the use of red light cameras.|
(AUSTIN) — The Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill Monday that would ban the use of traffic cameras to issue citations statewide. These devices, which use unmanned cameras to catch traffic violators, have been controversial since their implementation in some cities. Opponents say they are merely revenue generating devices that do nothing to improve public safety, while police departments say they reduce the number of crashes and encourage safe driving.
Senator Bob Hall of Edgewood, who authored SB 714, says that it is up to the Legislature to protect both the rights and the safety of Texans. "Continuing to allow the unfettered existence of unmanned, automated traffic cameras is an abdication of both of these responsibilities," he said. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Revenue from traffic cameras is supposed to flow to trauma care centers in order to offset the cost of uninsured care. None of the $96 million collected from traffic cameras, however, has ever been appropriated. According to the Comptroller's office, traffic cameras have allowed police departments to issue more than $16 million in fines for this fiscal year.
On the floor Monday, the Senate approved a bill that would close the Austin State-Supported Living Center. It's one provision within SB 204, the Sunset bill for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the agency that oversees long term care facilities such as nursing homes as well as services for those with mental or physical disabilities. Among other reforms for the agency, the bill would begin the process of shutting down the center based in Austin. Bill author Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa said that this is part of a trend of increasing demand for home-and community-based services. He cited the fact that while there is no waiting list for any of the 13 living centers in the state, there are more than 100,000 people waiting to receive services through home- and community-based service centers. Hinojosa said that there will remain a need for state-supported living centers. "It is not our intention to depopulate all the centers," he said.
According to the agency, the Austin State-Supported Living Center houses 215 people and has 930 employees. Founded in 1917, it was the first such facility to open in the state of Texas. DADS would be required under the bill to develop a plan to close the center by August 31, 2017, and must also formulate a plan to move residents into community based services in cases where that is practical.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 14 at 11 a.m.