At least three bills related to red-light cameras have been filed by Texas lawmakers to be considered during the 86th legislative session, which began Jan. 8.
Two of the bills are seeking to ban cameras outright while a third seeks to add new regulations. Several cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, including Frisco, Plano and Southlake, currently operate red-light cameras within their city limits.
In 2007, former Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Senate Bill 1119, which authorized cities across the state to install and activate red-light cameras to detect traffic signal violations. Since then, lawmakers have considered repealing the law.
Gov. Greg Abbott also took a stance when he recommended the prohibition of these cameras in his “Safeguarding, Securing, Serving” plan published in September. Abbott’s plan labels these camera systems as costly and ineffective while citing issues with constitutionality and transparency.
Following the publication of Abbott’s plan, State Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, and state Rep. Ed Thompson, R-Pearland, have filed SB 77 and House Bill 262. Both bills would ban cities or other municipalities from using red-light cameras to issue citations. Cities with existing systems would be allowed to continue their operations until contracts with camera service providers expires, under the proposed bills.
Alternatively, state Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, filed HB 537 to better regulate red-light cameras. His bill would mandate cities conduct an independent engineering study at least once every five years after the camera systems’ implementation. Cities are already required to conduct one before the cameras are installed. The study would determine if an alternative solution would be more effective in reducing red-light violations at a particular intersection.
Richardson has suspended its red-light camera program for the time being, according to the city website. The decision followed a 2016 court ruling over a lawsuit filed by plaintiff Russell Bowman who received a red-light camera notice of violation. The state’s 134th Judicial District Court declared Bowman not liable for the violation. However, the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed that decision on appeal. Bowman filed a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court in July, according to court documents.
More information about the filed bills can be found here.