The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 3/2/9

The Legislature’s collective populism is manifesting itself through its opposition to cameras that would monitor traffic-light violations.

Earlier this session, the state House, led in large part by Reps. Mark DuVall, D-Mantachie, and Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, passed legislation that would, at the least, ban any additional governments from placing cameras at intersections to try to catch people running red lights.

The Senate Transportation Committee has gone a step farther, banning the practice as soon as the bill becomes law. That bill is pending before the full Senate and many observers believe some version of the legislation will pass.

“I have never seen such an emotional issue,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tom King, R-Petal.

Opponents of the red-light cameras say they are akin to “Big Brother” and are nothing more than a cash-cow for the private companies that enter into contracts with municipalities to install and operate them.

“I think they save people lives,” counters Rep. Chuck Espy, D-Clarksdale, one of the few legislators who has publicly voiced support for the traffic-light cameras. “The opponents never address the fact that the numbers show they save people’s lives.”