By Jim Sullinger
The Kansas City Star
TOPEKA A bill prohibiting private ownership of an electronic
device that changes stoplights from red to green was approved
unanimously last week by the Kansas Senate.
It had been approved several weeks ago by the Kansas House
and now goes to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Although many bills are struggling just to make it through
one chamber, this measure flew through both houses of the
Legislature. The bill's author, Rep. David Huff, a Lenexa
Republican, said he had never seen a bill move through the
legislative process so quickly in his eight years in the House.
The Legislature and I felt the urgency of this bill,
because you can now buy one of these transmitters over the
Internet, and there is some evidence of private usage in Johnson
County, Huff said. He said use of the infrared transmitter
should be limited to fire, ambulance and police vehicles,
and to other emergency responders.
Huff said private use of the device at an intersection could
be a huge problem if an emergency vehicle tried to use a unit
at the same time.
Under H.B. 2522, possessing the device would be a misdemeanor
punishable by confinement in a county jail for no longer than
six months. A motorist found guilty of using the transmitter
could be charged with a felony if it resulted in a wreck in
which someone was injured or killed.