Accusing the state legislature of “economic dragooning,” a Lucas County judge this week ordered that the state may not withhold funding from the city of Toledo for operating traffic enforcement cameras.
Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros ruled in April that portions of a new state law that restricted the use of red-light and speed-violation cameras unconstitutionally violated the city’s home rule powers.
The Ohio General Assembly then approved a budget bill that said any city that disregarded the camera law would have the amount of gross fines billed from its traffic cameras deducted from the local government funds it receives from the state.
“…The threatened loss of funding for failure to comply with the unconstitutional statutes is economic dragooning that leaves the city with no real option but to shut down its automated traffic photo enforcement program even though studies have shown the presence of automated traffic cameras has resulted in a large decrease in the overall number of violations as well as the number of accidents,” Judge Mandros wrote in a 15-page decision.
He said the state would be in contempt of court if it reduced funding to Toledo for “noncompliance of the unconstitutional statutes.”
City Law Director Adam Loukx was pleased.
“The state is enjoined from withholding any money from us as the budget bill would otherwise have held so it’s good news in that sense,” he said.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office appealed Judge Mandros' April 27 ruling. That case is pending before Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals.