On June 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed House Bill No. 1631, which effectively banned the use of “photographic traffic signal enforcement systems,” otherwise known as red-light cameras.
The bill was passed in the Texas House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin of 109-34 and shortly thereafter in the Texas Senate by a 23-8 vote.
The governor took to Twitter to simply announce, “I just signed the law that bans red-light cameras in Texas.” Despite the passage of this widely supported bipartisan bill, however, the City of Humble will continue to enforce traffic with its red-light cameras that are currently in place at seven intersections around the city.
Jason Stuebe, city manager of Humble, said, “The way the law was written and later amended, cities with existing contracts that did not contain adverse legislation provisions are grandfathered and their contracts [and thereby cameras] will be allowed to remain in place for the duration of their existing contracts as of June 1, 2019. The contract between Humble and ATS [American Traffic Solutions] does not contain the adverse legislation provision and is therefore grandfathered.”
House Bill No. 1631 does include a provision that allows for cities which did not have a contract clause that stipulates the termination of a contract based on adverse state legislation to continue to operate their cameras until the contract expires. Because of this, the City of Humble is expected to continue with its implementation of red-light cameras. According to Stuebe, the City of Humble’s contract with ATS does not expire until 2024, so any violations until the expiration of the contract will continue to be cited and ticketed.
Humble motorists who run the red lights will continue to be fined $75 per violation and a $25 late fee after 30 days. These violations, just over the past fiscal year, racked up $3.26 million in revenue, according to Stuebe. The city appropriates these funds towards several different areas. First, the cost of maintaining and operating the systems must be repaid. According to Stuebe, the 10 red-light cameras currently in place cost $51,500 per month – a staggering $618,000 per year. Of the $1.62 million in funds retained by the city, the remainder goes to legally mandated programs such as traffic enforcement, traffic safety programs, public safety programs, intersection improvements and pedestrian safety programs. A portion of these funds, as obligated by state law, are dedicated towards trauma programs – the City of Humble has dedicated $300,000 of its red-light camera revenue to the Northeast Hospital Foundation in order to purchase equipment, emergency treatment and training for Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital.
The new law provides that cities may keep the cameras in place until the contract runs out with the provider. In Humble’s case, the contract ends in 2024. Some of the cities that have ceased to use their red-light camera enforcement systems include Plano, Southlake, Sugar Land, Fort Worth and Haltom City.