Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Statewide Dispute Over Traffic Cameras Continues

Image of cameras mounted on a traffic light apperatus (Thinkstock)

Toledo challenges the state legislature’s “economic penalties” on cities using automated traffic cameras.

Image of cameras mounted on a traffic light apperatus (Thinkstock)

Toledo challenges the state legislature’s “economic penalties” on cities using automated traffic cameras.

The state and the city of Toledo are at odds again in the ongoing clash between the Ohio legislature and municipalities about traffic camera systems that can record drivers who run red lights or speed.

Next week, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear an appeal submitted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office stemming from legislative measures in 2015 that cut funding to local governments that don’t abide by state laws governing traffic cameras.

Trial Court Finds Traffic Camera Laws Unconstitutional
In April 2015, the Lucas County Common Pleas Court found several traffic camera statutes passed a month earlier by the Ohio General Assembly to be unconstitutional. The court issued an injunction that blocked the state from enforcing the laws.

Two months later, state lawmakers enacted H.B. 64, the 2015-2017 budget bill, which included new provisions requiring municipalities to fully comply with the state’s traffic camera laws and to file reports of compliance or noncompliance with the state auditor. If a locality doesn’t follow the traffic camera laws, the state reduces funding to the municipality from the state’s local government fund by the amount of fines that have been billed to drivers in that area for traffic camera violations.

Toledo asked the Lucas County court to uphold the April injunction by prohibiting enforcement of the laws enacted in H.B. 64. The court determined that the state couldn’t use the later H.B. 64 measures to try to force Toledo to comply with the traffic camera laws that had been found unconstitutional in April.

The Sixth District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling, and the state appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Injunction Can’t Encompass Later Legislation, State Asserts
The attorney general argues that the H.B. 64 “set-off” provisions were enacted after the lower court’s injunction and don’t force compliance with the original traffic camera laws. Instead, the attorney general maintains, the new laws set up a reporting system and a method for the disbursement of discretionary state funds to local governments.

“Toledo has no ‘home rule’ right to receive money from the General Assembly,” the attorney general’s brief to the Supreme Court states.

Cities Cannot Follow Unconstitutional Laws, Toledo Maintains
Toledo notes that the Lucas County court found the original traffic camera laws unconstitutional because they infringe on the city’s right to home rule and that the Ohio Supreme Court in Dayton v. State (2017) also found three of those statutes unconstitutional.

The city argues that the state is using the economic penalties enacted in H.B. 64 to “legislatively coerce compliance with statutes that have been stricken as unconstitutional.”

Oral Argument Details
The Court will consider Toledo v. State and three other cases at a one-day session on Tuesday, April 24. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in Columbus. All arguments are streamed live online at and broadcast live and archived on The Ohio Channel.

Case Previews Released
Along with the descriptions provided in this article, the Supreme Court’s Office of Public Information today released in-depth previews of the central arguments in each of the four cases.

Highlights of Other Cases
In State v. Dunson, a Montgomery County court ordered a man convicted of murder and aggravated robbery in 2013 to pay $6,199 in court costs. The man filed a request from prison asking the court to set aside his court costs, stating that he is unable to pay. Noting that trial courts must impose the costs of prosecution on convicted criminal defendants, the prosecutor asserts that state law lists no factors, such as a person’s present or future ability to pay, that must be considered when assessing court costs.

A Portage County company contests the denial of a use tax exemption for the purchase of natural gas to heat the six large buildings it uses to construct aluminum truck trailers, some up to 53 feet long. The company argues the gas purchase meets the requirements for the exemption because it is critical to keeping both the aluminum and the facility at least 50 degrees in temperature to assure the welds on the trailers aren’t compromised. In East Manufacturing v. Testa, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals denied the exemption, finding the Ohio tax commissioner correctly concluded that the company didn’t qualify for an exemption.

A national bank is challenging a trial court’s third rejection of an attempt to foreclose on a residential borrower who failed to make home loan payments. The borrower secured a mortgage under the Federal Housing Administration. Federal rules require a face-to-face meeting with the borrower after three missed payments before a foreclosure proceeding can start. The bank didn’t conduct the meeting after its first attempt to foreclose, but met with the customer in a court-ordered mediation after the second attempt. In Wells Fargo Bank v. Burd, the bank argues it met the requirement and should be allowed to foreclose.