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Morning update Day 3: Initiative power sought for cameras

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 14, 2012 at 9:34 am with No Comments »
March 14, 2012 9:43 am

A state lawmaker wants to give voters the right to pass local initiatives banning traffic cameras.

The state Supreme Court ruled last week local initiative power doesn’t extend to the speed and red-light cameras, which the Legislature permitted and left up to city councils to regulate. The decision was a loss for Tim Eyman, who has waged successful campaigns against cameras in cities including Mukilteo, Longview, Bellingham and Monroe.

Rep. Chris Hurst, an Enumclaw Democrat, said he would introduce a bill today that allows camera initiatives and referenda. Hurst said:

It did not look to me like the court was for or against red light cameras, but rather that the original legislation may have taken that right away, which I doubt was the intent of the legislators that passed it. It is a simple fix bill that would return that right to the citizens, who as you know, generally hate the things.

One big hurdle for the bill is that legislative leaders agreed to a short list of topics that could be discussed in the ongoing special session — including the budget and revenue — and traffic cameras isn’t on the list.

All four leaders of the partisan caucuses would likely need to agree for an off-topic bill to move forward, and leaders are often reluctant to do that, figuring it would open the floodgates for everyone’s pet issue to come up.

Hurst said he hasn’t been advised whether his idea would be considered but “wanted to put it on the table for discussion in case the special session drags on for a while.”

That looks likely. Day 2 of special session brought more talks in the governor’s office, where legislative leaders met for an hour and came out with no breakthroughs.

Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s spokeswoman said lawmakers are “still talking and bringing ideas to the table, which is movement in the right direction.”

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