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Illinois House Approves Bill To Ban Red Light Cameras...But Not In Chicago

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Apr 23, 2015 8:10PM

Despite his personal issues with red lights, Mayor Emanuel remains a strong proponent of red light cameras as an important safety measure for the city of Chicago. The Illinois General Assembly, however, has launched a direct offensive against this line of reasoning.

In a 79 to 26 vote, the Illinois House approved a bill that would ban the use of red light cameras in non-home rule communities, generally towns with a population of less than 25,000. Per the Illinois state constitution, home rule communities are larger towns which can "exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs." Therefore, Chicago and larger suburbs would not be affected by this proposed law and an outright state-wide ban would require an amendment to the state constitution.

Even though red light cameras would continue to exist in Chicago under this legislation, the debates occurring in Springfield largely echo a common debate that occurs around City Hall. Rep David McSweeney, the man responsible for introducing the measure, has repeatedly claimed that red light cameras are simply "a revenue grab by local governments" and that "This is not about safety, it's all about revenue." Rep. Ron Sandack said that "People hate them, they hate them for a reason and they are right."

This legislation comes on the heels of a long-running Tribune investigation into the efficacy of red light cameras, which found that the cameras "failed to deliver on safety claims and that the city's yellow light intervals are dangerously short and out of step with national standards." The bill is now pending consideration before the State Senate.