Grassroots Activists Push for Statewide Ban on Red-Light Cameras

There's a new push to end red-light cameras across Texas. Grassroots organizers are asking the state legislature to take up a ban on the cameras at its special session later this month, and these organizers have been around the block before.

Faith Bussey doesn't fit the typical image of a legal rights activist.

"Nope, I'm a mom," she said with a laugh. "I'm a mom who wants a better Texas for her kids when they get older."

Three years ago, Bussey joined forces with other folks to gather more than 11,000 signatures for a special election in Arlington. Then in 2015, voters banned red-light cameras in that city.

"It was guilty until you prove your innocence," Bussey said. "That's not the way our justice system is supposed to work."

Now Bussey and her fellow activists want to take their case statewide. They wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to bring up a red-light camera ban during the upcoming special session.

"This is a great way to be popular, with all the unpopular things that they're doing," Bussey said.

The push comes from the Texas Conservative Grassroots Coalition, with Republican groups from all over the state signing on.

But it's one of the few issues that needs no party lines. Anyone can get caught and get mad.

"I do have red light tickets, I'll tell you that now. I just haven't paid them," said Fort Worth driver Ralph Miller. "I'm able to pay them, but I refuse to pay them because I don't think it's right."

City governments and police argue it's about safety.

While Arlington was going through its fight, city staff said at a 2014 city council meeting that accidents at red-light camera enforced intersections had dropped 75 percent after the cameras went in.

But even though she has a lot riding on Texas roads, including three children, Bussey doesn't buy that reasoning.

"These particular cameras are policing for profit," she said. "And that's wrong."

NBC 5 checked with the governor's office and was told Abbott already has his agenda set for the special session and it does not include red-light cameras. At this point, a state lawmaker would have to make this a pet project and find a way to attach it to one of the topics the governor does want discussed.

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