A state lawmaker wants to give voters the right to pass local initiatives banning traffic cameras.
The state Supreme Court ruled last week that local initiative power doesn’t extend to the speed and red-light cameras, which the Legislature permitted and left up to city councils to regulate. The decision was a loss for Tim Eyman, who has waged successful campaigns against cameras in cities including Mukilteo, Longview, Bellingham and Monroe.
Rep. Chris Hurst, an Enumclaw Democrat, introduced a bill Wednesday that allows camera initiatives and referenda.
“It did not look to me like the court was for or against red light cameras, but rather that the original legislation may have taken that right away, which I doubt was the intent of the legislators that passed it,” Hurst said. “It is a simple fix bill that would return that right to the citizens, who, as you know, generally hate the things.”
Cities across the state – including Tacoma, Lacey, Auburn, Lakewood, Puyallup, Federal Way and Fife – have raked in millions of dollars in fines from traffic law violators caught on camera.
One big hurdle for the bill is that legislative leaders agreed to a short list of topics that could be discussed in the ongoing special session, including the budget and revenue. Traffic cameras aren’t on the list.
All four leaders of the partisan caucuses would likely have to agree for an off-topic bill to move forward, and leaders are often reluctant to do that, figuring it would open the floodgates for everyone’s pet issue.
Hurst said he hasn’t been advised whether his idea would be considered but “wanted to put it on the table for discussion in case the special session drags on for a while.”
Jordan Schrader, email@example.com