On Tuesday, the Iowa Senate passed 30 to 19 a measure, SF 343, that would ban all automated traffic enforcement cameras in the state.
Republican State Senator Jake Chapman from Adel who was bill’s floor manager said he had concerns whether Iowans’ due process rights were protected as a result of the growing use of traffic enforcement cameras in the state.
“This has been going on a long time, and frankly the thing that disturbs me the most is the fact that local authorities have not been honest with Iowans,” Chapman said during debate introducing the bill. “This is to generate money for the cities.”
Democrat State Senator Claire Celsi from Des Moines rose in opposition to the bill and noted that she recently received a citation from a camera after “going 76 in a 60.”
“I deserved it,” she said.
She noted that the place where the traffic enforcement camera is located on I-235 is “a dangerous place to drive” and the ticket served as a reminder that she needs to slow down.
“When people get a traffic camera ticket I think it frees up our law enforcement to do other things,” Celsi said noting that is what the Des Moines Police have told her.
“Also, it increases safety,” she added.
Republican State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale, the original sponsor of the bill, reiterated that the legislation was about the due process rights of Iowans.
Zaun called out Windsor Heights as one of the worst offenders as they slowed traffic down on University Avenue with cameras at the top and bottom of the hill on that street. He also noted the city council of a community with 3800 residents decided to put a red light camera on the town square.
“I really doubt that they have had a lot of accidents on the town square,” he said.
Zaun called the cameras a “money grab” and explained how cities, who are looking to raise revenue, are told by companies who operate the cameras that they will generate money for their police departments. In reality, he noted, 50 to 60 percent of the revenue raised goes back to the companies.
“This is a racket, this is what this is, and it goes against the principles in regards that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Zaun said.
If the bill passes the state of Iowa, cities, and counties will not be able to use traffic enforcement cameras and cities that currently use them will have to remove them by July 1, 2019.
The bill also states that the Iowa Department of Public Safety will not share or provide information to another state who seek to collect fees for traffic violations by Iowa-registered vehicles caught by traffic enforcement cameras in another state.
The vote was mostly along partisan lines. Republican State Senators Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs, Dan Zumbach of Ryan, and Tim Kraayenbrink of Ft. Dodge joined Democrats voting against the bill. Democrat State Senators Herman Quirmbach of Ames and Rich Taylor of Mt. Pleasant joined Republicans voting for the bill.
The bill will now head to the Iowa House whose version of the bill did not survive the first funnel.