Red-light cameras, long controversial, are in the spotlight again.

A state senator is pushing a bill restricting how law enforcement agencies run their camera programs – including putting an end to what some call “snitch” notices.

Sen. Joe Simitian’s SB 29, which just passed the Senate, is itself a bit controversial. State Finance Department officials don’t like the possibility that it may reduce state fine revenues.

Some of the bill’s elements are simple, requiring require law enforcement agencies to put signs up within 200 feet of all intersections that have cameras, alerting drivers. Current law allows cities to put those signs at city limits.

Another bill element seems obvious: Camera locations must be picked for safety reasons, not revenue- generation reasons.

Agencies also must note on their citations how a driver can contact officers to discuss the ticket.

The most interesting element of Simitian’s bill involves a legal fact some drivers don’t know: The registered owner of the car isn’t required to pay the ticket if the photo shows someone else behind the wheel.

Law enforcement agencies and their vendors often send registered owner notices that, Simitian says, imply the car owner is required to identify the driver.

Simitian calls that a snitch ticket and a bit of a strong-arm tactic. He says his legislation requires agencies and their vendors to inform car owners that they are not obligated to become de facto agents of the court by IDing the driver for police.

Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, is the guy who wrote the law banning handheld cell phones and texting while driving, as well as the “wipers on, lights on” law. He’s into safety. He doesn’t mind agencies asking car owners to identify the driver. He just doesn’t want them tricking anyone.

There is some disagreement, though, over the wording of the bill.

Sacramento County sheriff’s officials said

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