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Restrictions OK'd on stoplight-changing devices

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.