On the record: LD 28 legislators vote against photo radar repeal

A view of the Arizona Legislature complex in downtown Phoenix. (Submitted photo)

Proposed legislation at the Arizona Capitol to abolish photo radar from local streets has passed the House of Representatives and is now at the Arizona Senate listed as “engrossed.”

Republican Rep. Travis Grantham of Gilbert proposed House Bill 2525 and it passed in the Arizona House by a 32-28 margin Thursday, Feb. 23 giving the idea of outlawing photo radar more credence heading into the Arizona Senate.

The bill today is undergoing the amendment process typically referred to as “engrossed” by local lawmakers as the first read of the bill at the Senate went through its second read Wednesday, March 1.

Both the municipalities of Paradise Valley and Scottsdale have current five-year contracts with separate vendors — Redflex Traffic Systems in Paradise Valley and American Traffic Solutions in Scottsdale — that outline stipulations surrounding equipment maintenance, retention of records and various fees paid per citation and photo site.

The Town of Paradise Valley has five fixed photo radar locations each equipped with speed detection capabilities while the city of Scottsdale has 18 locations throughout its city limits.

The Independent reached out to both Representative Kelli Butler, a democrat, and Representative Maria Syms, a republican, to see where they stood on the potential for the end to photo radar on local streets traveled by motorists they represent.

Both Representative Syms and Representative Butler — who are serving their first terms — represent Legislative District 28 at the Arizona Legislature.

The Arizona House of Representatives, which is the lower house of the local Legislature, elects its members to two-year terms with a term limit of four consecutive stints in office. Today, the Republican Party holds a majority of 36 to 24 at the House while the state’s 30 legislative districts — a district consists of at least 170,000 people — elects two representatives for each district.

District 28 covers an area that extends from Union Hills to Thomas Road, and from Interstate 17 to just east of Scottsdale Road.

Ms. Butler ran unopposed in the August primary while Mary Hamway and Ms. Syms emerged from a field of five republican candidates that included Kenneth Bowers, Matt Morales and Alberto Gutier.

This is what they had to say on the prospects to the end of the photo radar:

Kelli Butler

•Which way did you vote on HB 2525?

Kelli Butler

I voted against HB 2525 and look to the Senate to defeat the bill. I am a strong proponent of local control and this bill is yet another attempt by the state legislature to tell our cities and locally elected officials what they can and cannot do. Local officials understand their unique communities and are best positioned to create policy that reflects their values.

•Can you provide some insight into why you voted the way you did?

This is not a new theme at the legislature. Last year, the state passed legislation to withhold shared state revenue if a municipality passed any local law in disagreement with laws made by the legislature. This represents an unacceptable, and disruptive, overreach of power. These measures weaken citizens’ voices and too often lead to needless, expensive legal challenges.

While I am no fan of photo radar tickets, this bill takes away local authorities’ control and diminishes safety. It’s important to note that data show that photo radar makes our intersections safer, saving lives and money.

Maria Syms

•Which way did you vote on HB 2525?

I voted no on the bill in its current form. It narrowly passed the House and will now go over to the Senate for consideration.

•Can you provide some insight into why you voted the way you did?

Maria Syms

Photo radar has been a hotly debated issue both at the state and local level for many years.  I have heard both views from Paradise Valley residents. With respect to this bill, I had many more folks contact me in favor of keeping it because they believe it has a traffic calming effect and controls the increasing cut through traffic from Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert presented data showing that we have fewer accidents because of photo radar and he indicated that officers are able to do more community policing. Although some folks have individually voiced opposition to photo radar during my time in the Town, no organized effort has emerged to put the issue on the ballot for a vote.

I personally do not like photo radar and I believe Paradise Valley has gone too far with the number of cameras without verifiable data that so many cameras are needed. Many folks speed up and slow down when they get to the camera. I would like to see less cameras and an open and transparent bidding process with respect to the company used to provide the photo radar service.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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