House backs banning some red light cameras

 
 
Updated 4/22/2015 2:57 PM
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  • The Illinois House voted Wednesday to ban some red light cameras.

      The Illinois House voted Wednesday to ban some red light cameras. PAUL VALADE | Staff Photographer

A ban on red-light cameras in some suburbs moved a step closer to reality today as a bill to do so won approval in the Illinois House.

The House voted 79-26 to outlaw the cameras in towns without so-called home rule powers, usually those having populations of less than 25,000. Some of the affected suburbs, for example, could include Roselle, Lake Zurich, Libertyville and Bensenville.

"This isn't about red light cameras, this is about revenue," state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican and author of the plan, said.

While several suburban lawmakers stood in support of the proposal, state Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, said red light cameras promote safety. And, he said, the real epicenter of the red-light camera debate is in Chicago, not in relatively small suburbs.

"Sure, there are revenue elements, but there are also safety elements," Harris said. "I've been caught twice by a red-light camera in Des Plaines, and when I come up to that intersection now, I respect the law."

The proposal now moves on to the Illinois Senate, where state Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, has in the past called for a total ban on the cameras.

State Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, says most people don't regard red light cameras in a positive light.

"There are a bevy of reasons to vote against this bill if you're for red light cameras," Sandack said. "People hate them. People hate them for a reason."

Some of the bill's opponents argue the money municipalities receive from red-light camera fines are crucial, especially if Gov. Bruce Rauner lowers the amount of state money local governments receive in his final budget.

"Then you take that little bit of money that they get from folks running red lights, and you're gonna cut the legs out from under them," Harris said.

State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, says the legislature doesn't know Rauner will cut the money municipalities receive. Decisions shouldn't be made just because of revenue, he says.

Franks supported the original initiative to install red light cameras, but now says he was "duped" into supporting it.

"We should not be preying on our citizens and seeing them as a piggy bank to pay for these infractions that in many, many, many instances no police officer using discretion would ever give."

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