Minn. Senate panel rejects red-light cameras

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A Minnesota Senate panel has killed a bill that would allow police in Minnesota to use "photo cop" cameras to catch red light-running scofflaws.

The Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee rejected it Monday on a 9-6 vote, the Pioneer Press reports.

The bill's chances are now slim, author Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, told the Star Tribune. Last week, a House committee set the legislation aside after two hours of testimony when it became clear that panel was not going to approve it.

Using the cameras as part of an effort to issue traffic citations is illegal in the state. Minneapolis used the cameras in 2005, but a judge rejected use of the devices. A Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the ruling, noting that it was not possible to prove who was driving a vehicle from the photo of a license plate.

The cameras snap pictures of the vehicles of law-breakers in busy intersections, and then the owner of the vehicle is sent a ticket.

Among the critics of the legislation was the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, MPR reported, which argues that innocent car owners can end up with the citation. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association opposed the bill, calling the cameras a bid by cities to generate revenue, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Use of the cameras has hit speed bumps in Minnesota, but a number of states use the devices to catch red-light runners and speeders. Here's a map from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that shows which states use the cameras. Florida is among the states finding that the cameras are highly controversial.

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