Legislation allowing red light traffic cameras and banning smoking in vehicles with children will have to wait for yet another year. The Transportation Committee will hit its deadline for legislative action Wednesday and neither bill will move forward.
Both concepts have come up in previous legislative sessions and ultimately failed to gain traction.
Although the committee’s deadline to pass its own legislation is on Wednesday, Rep. Antonio Guerrera, the committee’s co-chairman, said the committee finished approving bills last week. Neither piece of legislation made the cut this year, he said.
On red light traffic cameras, Guerrera said there were too many questions among lawmakers to move it out of committee.
The legislation would have given municipalities with populations of more than 48,000 people the option of installing the cameras to photograph the license plates of vehicles running red lights. The towns would then be able to issue tickets to the owners of those cars. The bill would not force any towns to install the cameras.
Guerrera said the committee likely will need more information regarding how the cameras have been implemented in other states before it approves them for cities in Connecticut.
“In the future we may have to look at it as kind of a study. Let’s get a grasp on what works and what doesn’t work. What are the pitfalls we’re hearing about and what are the good aspects,” he said.
Guerrera said the committee could move to establish a study this year, but he said there is still a lot on the transportation panel’s plate this year.
Sen. Gary LeBeau, who sponsored a traffic camera bill this year, said he was disappointed to learn the legislation was not passing out of committee. Although, he said a study on the concept sounded “somewhat reasonable,” he said there was no reason why the state couldn’t authorize a pilot program.
“It’s voluntarily sticking your head in the sand because you don’t want to know,” he said. “What we need is a pilot program. I don’t get why if some towns want to try it we don’t let them try it.”
But the bill had an uphill battle this year and faced opposition from groups like the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union. After a public hearing on the bill in February, Sen. Andrew Maynard, Guerrera’s co-chairman, expressed doubt the bill would have anymore success this year than it has in the past.
“My gut instinct is that the proponents of the bill are not getting past, I think, the hurdles that are being put in place by the opponents of the bill,” he said. “My gut tells me it’s probably got at least as much trouble this year as it has in the past.”
The same seems true for legislation which would have made it an infraction to smoke cigarettes in a car with a child six years old or younger, or if the child weighed less than 60 pounds.
The bill would have only impacted motorists who were pulled over by police for other reasons and were subsequently found to be smoking with kids in the car.
Guerrera said the legislation raised questions over what age it becomes appropriate to have kids inhaling second-hand smoke.
“It didn’t make sense. Why is it okay to smoke with a 7-year-old kid in the car and not a six-year-old?” he asked.