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California Governor Sides with Red Light Camera Companies
California Governor Jerry Brown vetoes bill that placed mild restrictions on cities using red light cameras.

Governor Jerry BrownCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown (D) sided on Friday with red light camera companies and the remaining municipalities that use automated ticketing machines. He vetoed a measure that would have placed the mildest of restrictions on photo ticketing.

"I am returning Senate Bill 29 without my signature," Brown wrote in his veto message. "This bill standardizes rules for local governments to follow when installing and maintaining red light cameras. This is something that can and should be overseen by local elected officials."

State law already authorizes local officials to use red light cameras and does so by setting a number of standards. The vetoed measure would have added a handful of new restrictions that, for the most part, reflect the current practice of photo ticketing programs in the Golden State. The bill's most significant provision would have forced municipalities to show how safety and not revenue concerns guided the selection of camera locations. Vendor lobbyists succeeded at the last minute in gutting a provision that would have limited the use of "snitch tickets," which are notices that look like tickets that red light camera vendors mail to registered vehicle owners to trick them into disclosing the identity of the driver in a red light camera photograph. California law requires that only the actual person behind the wheel receive the ticket. The legislation would require such vendor mailings be approved by the court. State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), was disappointed by Brown's move.

"I think we can keep folks safe and still give the driving public a fair shake," Simitian said in a statement. "I'm sorry the governor didn't agree."

The California Department of Finance, which serves as the chief fiscal policy advisor to the governor's office, offered the only written opposition to the bill.

"Department of Finance is opposed to this bill because it would make the installation and operation of red light cameras more cumbersome for local agencies, which is likely to result in their reduced or discontinued use," the Senate legislative summary explained. "This could reduce annual revenues to the state and to local jurisdictions by approximately $140 million annually."

The state Senate will now decide whether to override Brown's veto. The bill passed the body by a 38-0 vote on September 1, a more than sufficient amount. It sailed through the state Assembly by a similarly large 70-4 vote on August 30.

Correction: The article has been updated to reflect an August 26 amendment striking a key snitch ticket provision from the legislation.

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