State goes after red-light, speed cameras; Dayton Mayor Whaley not happy

Would require cities to report how much they make from the cameras, then cut that amount from state funding.

State lawmakers want to make it more difficult for cities to deploy traffic enforcement cameras, which could spark another legal dispute between Ohio and its cities.

Included in the compromise deal on the state transportation budget bill is a provision to require cities to file all traffic camera citation cases in municipal court. That means cities would no longer be allowed to use administrative hearings to deal with drivers who contest the tickets.

Related: Lawmakers look to make it harder for cities to use traffic cameras

The transportation budget bill would also mandate that cities report to the state how much they collected in traffic camera ticket revenue. The state would then deduct that amount from state funding that goes to the cities.

The bill also includes a 10.5-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax and 20-cent increase on diesel fuel.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Twitter blasted the tax hike and camera restrictions. “The Ohio Legislature: raises your taxes and makes your cities less safe—all in one vote. We are never safe when the legislature is in session.”

Gov. Mike DeWine said he plans to review the bill and sign it as quickly as possible. He declined to say whether he would line-item veto anything. When asked about the traffic camera restriction language, the governor said “I don’t have any thoughts on it at this time.”

In March 2015, a law took effect that required cities using traffic cameras to station a full-time police officer with each camera in use; conduct a three-year traffic study before deploying a camera; give speeders a “leeway” before issuing tickets.

Dayton challenged the 2015 law in court.

In July 2017, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that the law conflicted with cities’ home-rule authority. The Ohio Constitution gives municipalities self-governance powers as long as local ordinances don’t conflict with the state’s general laws.

Last month, Whaley and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said they oppose attempts by lawmakers to make it more difficult for cities to use traffic camera technology.

“We already won this battle in the supreme court. Let us not have the same fight again,” Whaley said last week. “We will sue again. We will win again. And we will have a bad relationship. We want to turn the page. We are showing that we want to turn the page. We’re asking the Legislature to do the same.”

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