BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair SB 1303 (Simitian) - Automated traffic enforcement systems. Amended: As Introduced Policy Vote: T&H 8-0 Urgency: No Mandate: Yes Hearing Date: April 30, 2012 Consultant: Mark McKenzie This bill does not meet the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: SB 1303 would revise the requirements that local jurisdictions must follow when installing and operating automated traffic enforcement systems (red light cameras). Fiscal Impact: Likely minor one-time costs to Judicial Council to develop and adopt courtesy notice forms, and minor ongoing costs to compile and maintain reports received from operators of automated traffic enforcement systems (Trial Court Trust Fund). Non-reimbursable local costs to post signage and develop uniform guidelines and procedures by January 1, 2014. Additional local costs related to the discretionary act of installing future automated traffic enforcement systems. Background: Existing law authorizes the use of automated traffic enforcement systems at railroad crossings and intersections to record violations of unlawful grade crossings and red light running. Only a governmental agency, in cooperation with law enforcement, may operate an automated enforcement system. Existing law authorizes a governmental agency to contract out its duties to certify that the equipment is installed and operating properly and regularly inspected, provided the agency maintains overall supervision and control of the system. Existing law also prohibits a contract between a government agency and an automated traffic enforcement system vendor that provides compensation to the vendor based on the number of citations issued or revenue generated by the system. This bill is intended to improve accountability of local governments that use red light camera systems, to ensure citations are properly issued, and to improve the means for a person to challenge SB 1303 (Simitian) Page 1 citations issued in error. Proposed Law: SB 1303 would revise the requirements that local jurisdictions and enforcement agencies must follow when installing and operating automated traffic enforcement systems. Specifically, this bill would: Require signs to be posted within 200 feet of an intersection where red light cameras are in use by January 1, 2014, as specified, instead of allowing signs either at intersections or at the entrances to the city. Require a local agency to adopt a finding that the placement of a red light camera is needed for reasons related to safety, for cameras placed after January 1, 2013. Require local agencies to develop uniform guidelines for screening and issuing violations, for handling confidential information, and for selecting locations for red light camera use by January 1, 2014, for both existing and new cameras. Prohibits the operator of a red light camera from considering revenue generation, beyond actual cost recovery, when considering whether to install a camera. Require the submittal of an annual report to the Judicial Council that includes specified violation data on red light camera systems, including: the number of alleged violations captured by the systems; the number of citations issued and whether the violations involved vehicles turning right or left or traveling through an intersection; the number and percentage of citations dismissed, and the impact that a camera has had on collisions. Require Judicial Council to approve all forms for courtesy notices and notices to appear. Allow the issuing agency and the vendor to issue courtesy notices to registered owners of vehicles or alleged violators prior to issuing a citation, and requires courtesy notices issued after January 1, 2014 to be on a form approved by Judicial Council and to contain specified information. Make other changes to ensure the processes for issuing and contesting citations are consistent and transparent. Related Legislation: SB 29 (Simitian) 2011, which is substantially similar to this bill, was vetoed by the Governor last year with the following message: This bill standardizes rules for local governments to follow when installing and maintaining red light cameras. SB 1303 (Simitian) Page 2 This is something that can and should be overseen by local elected officials. Staff Comments: Judicial Council has not prepared a fiscal impact estimate for this bill, but staff notes that information provided to the Committee last year for SB 29 indicates that one-time administrative costs to develop and adopt forms required by this bill would be minor and absorbable. Furthermore, any costs to receive reports on red light camera use by local agencies would be absorbable. A violation of the Vehicle Code is a crime. By changing the requirements related to red light cameras, this bill creates a state-mandated local program, but includes a standard "local crime disclaimer" provision that indicates there is no state obligation for reimbursement. Any other local costs resulting from this bill are not reimbursable because the decision to install or operate an automated traffic enforcement system is discretionary.