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March 8, 2012 at 11:06 AM

State Supreme Court: Local voters can't ban red-light cameras

(Updated with Eyman’s comments.)

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that a 2010 Mukilteo ballot initiative banning red-light cameras is invalid.

The long-awaited ruling means initiative efforts in other cities around the state, including Longview, Bellingham, Monroe, Redmond and Wenatchee, are also invalid.

It’s a big loss for initiative king Tim Eyman, who had adopted the cause of banning the cameras and helped people in cities across the state fight to have them banned.

In a statement, Eyman said the ruling  “is just the height of arrogance, and it doesn’t even sound like we live in a free country when they say, ‘We’re going to decide what you’re allowed to vote on and what you’re not allowed to vote on. From that perspective it is an incredibly arrogant ruling.”

The Supreme Court ruling says the Legislature gave local governing bodies, but not voters, the ability to approve the cameras.

“”The legislature’s grant of authority does not extend to the electorate,” Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in the ruling.

Cities across the state have raked in millions of dollars in fines from drivers caught on camera rolling through a right-hand turn or crossing an intersection after the light had turned red. For-profit companies review the photos, then mail tickets to offenders. The fine: $124.

Proponents of the cameras say they improve public safety and free up police for more important tasks.

More than 70 percent of Mukilteo voters rejected the cameras in a 2010 vote, prompting a lawsuit by a citizens group that argued voters could not have the final say. The Mukilteo City Council took down the cameras in response to the vote, even though it hasn’t been clear whether the vote was valid.

Comments | More in General news, Traffic & Transit | Topics: Mukilteo, red-light cameras, Tim Eyman

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