FILE - IL Rep. David McSweeney

Illinois state Representative David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills

A bill to ban red-light cameras in some Illinois municipalities moved forward Wednesday shortly after a former state lawmaker pleaded guilty to taking bribes to protect a red-light camera operator.

In 2015, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed legislation that would ban non-home rule municipalities from installing red-light cameras in their communities in the House of Representatives. At the time, it passed with broad bipartisan support. However, it stalled in the state Senate when it was sent to then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s Transportation Committee. As he’d done with other bills, Sandoval sent it to the Subcommittee on Special Issues, a panel that rarely had any members. 

“It passed the House with 79 [affirmative] votes and it was killed in the Senate by Sen. Sandoval,” McSweeney said. “Now, we know why.”

Sandoval pleaded guilty in January to a charge of taking bribes in exchange for being the “protector” of red-light camera operators. As part of a plea agreement, Sandoval agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

McSweeney re-filed the legislation in January 2019. It was heard in committee Wednesday and passed unanimously. 

Red-light cameras have not only been under federal scrutiny, but others have questioned their efficacy when it comes to making intersections safer. 

“They’re focused on raising revenue and not improving safety,” McSweeney said. “Studies have shown that they actually increase rear-end collisions.”

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.