Bill banning red-light cameras passes House committee

A bill that would ban red-light cameras in non-home rule communities was approved unanimously by an Illinois House committee Wednesday.

The bill sponsored by Barrington Hills Republican state Rep. David McSweeney would prevent non-home rule communities from installing the devices in the future, and also force those towns to remove ones currently operating by the start of next year. More than a dozen towns would be affected if the bill becomes law.

The measure now heads to the House floor for a full vote. McSweeney said he has lined up Chicago Democratic state Sen. Emil Jones III to sponsor the bill in the Senate.

"These cameras are nothing more than a get-rich scheme for the companies that install the cameras and the politicians who profit from protecting the companies behind this scam," McSweeney said. "It is time to end this corruption once and for all."

McSweeney said a similar bill he filed in 2015 was quashed by disgraced former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who was chairman of the Senate's Transportation Committee at the time and has since pleaded guilty to accepting $70,000 in bribes from a red-light camera company.

Sandoval's conviction is part of an ongoing federal investigation that has ensnared a number of suburban officials.

"It is time to end this madness," McSweeney said. "These cameras are not about making communities safer. They are about producing more revenue for local governments and padding the pockets of political insiders."

Recently, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced that her office would no longer help towns seeking overdue fines for red-light camera violations by garnishing tax refund checks of the scofflaws.

Still, community leaders with the cameras argue they have made intersections safer since their installation.

During Wednesday's hearing, almost 80 people signed up to speak in opposition of the bill, with most from the suburbs, including officials from Aurora, Bensenville, Glendale Heights, Roselle, Villa Park, Wayne and Winfield.

Under state law, communities with a population above 25,000 automatically receive home rule status. Towns with a population below 25,000 can obtain home rule status through referendum.

State Rep. David McSweeney
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