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Jun 14, 2012 12:45 PM by AP

Councilman wants vote on traffic cameras

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette City-Parish Councilman William Theriot is pushing forward with a proposal to allow voters to decide the fate of the city's traffic-camera enforcement program. The move comes despite warnings from the city-parish attorney that a public vote on the issue is not allowed under state or local law.

The Advocate reports Theriot is scheduled to introduce a measure at Tuesday's council meeting to call for a referendum this fall to decide if the traffic-camera program should end.

A final council vote on the proposal is scheduled for next month.

"I feel, and many people feel, that this is something the people should decide," Theriot said.

The call for a public vote comes after the council in May voted 6-3 against a proposal to end the program by Theriot and councilmen Andy Naquin and Jared Bellard.

The new proposal would bypass the council and submit the controversial issue to Lafayette voters, but City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert has said Louisiana law and local law bar the council from calling a public vote except on specific issues, such as tax proposals or amendments to the constitution-like city-parish charter.

During a council meeting last month, Hebert cited a 1980s court case in which the secretary of state blocked a ballot proposal by the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board to ask voters whether the board should recognize and bargain with a teacher's union.

The secretary of state argued that the School Board did not have the legal authority to call for an election on just any issue, and the state Supreme Court agreed.

The state Attorney General's Office has also issued legal opinions stating that local government may not call for a public vote or poll unless there is a local or state law that specifically allows for the issue to be put before voters.

Theriot questions the legal opinions and has said he would like to see an opinion specific to his request for a public vote on the traffic cameras in Lafayette.

He also said he has no plans on withdrawing his call for a public vote.

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