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Missouri senator seeks ban of red-light cameras, high-speed license plate scanners in state

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ST. JOSEPH, Missouri — A state senator has proposed a bill that would ban red-light cameras and high-speed license plate scanners in Missouri.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, said he believes the devices are meant to make money for municipalities, rather than to keep motorists safe, the St. Joseph News-Press reported (http://bit.ly/1Ccf2Gf ).

Red-light cameras are not being used in the state pending a ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court, which heard arguments last month in challenges to the red light cameras in St. Louis, St. Peters and speed-limit enforcement in Moline Acres.

Lower courts invalidated the ordinances allowing the devices, in part because they conflicted with state laws. The cities appealed.

The Supreme Court's decision could affect how traffic cameras are used in dozens of other communities around Missouri. The court has not said when it will rule.

Automated license plate reader systems and traffic enforcement systems are unregulated. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that the scanners hold onto personal data.

"Having high-speed license plate readers and having the government note the time and place of where your car was at a given moment is tantamount to stalking," Schaaf said. "I never dreamed I would live in a world where the government would keep track of where and when I was from time to time and keep it forever in their database."

St. Joseph has used a license plate scanner for a couple of years. It retains information for about 60 days.

State Rep. Delus Johnson, a St. Joseph Republican, agreed that the devices are designed to create a revenue stream, principally a private company.

Johnson suggested that residents should be allowed to vote on the cameras.

"It's almost like big brother's watching you all the time," he said. "You're getting a fine in the mail. Luckily there's not a city in the state that's doing it right now because of the court battle and we just want to send this to the voters and allow them to give a final vote on whether or not they want these red-light cameras to operate in the state of Missouri."


Information from: St. Joseph News-Press/St. Joe, Missouri, http://www.newspressnow.com

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