2/6/2013Iowa Takes Three Approaches To Ending Traffic Cameras
Three bills introduced in Iowa legislature would shut down or restrict the use of automated ticketing machines.
An Iowa lawmaker is taking three shots at local governments to discourage them from using red light cameras and speed cameras. State Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) introduced a set of bills that range from a total ban on photo enforcement to the slight annoyance of a few minor restrictions.
A half-dozen Iowa cities use the devices even though the legislature never granted localities the authority to delegate ticket-writing power to for-profit companies. Instead, the Iowa Supreme Court in 2008 declared such systems could be used (view ruling). That did not sit well with the GOP-led Iowa House, which voted 58-42 last April to ban automated ticketing. The measure failed to advance when Senate President Jack Kibbie (D-Emmetsburg) ruled the ban could not be added to an appropriations bill, the last legislative vehicle of the session. Kibbie is now gone and state Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) has assumed the leadership role.
Under Zaun's most ambitious proposal, the all photo ticketing would end in the state.
"The department or a local authority shall not place or cause to be placed on or adjacent to a highway, or maintain or employ the use of, an automated traffic law enforcement system for the enforcement of any provision of this chapter or any local ordinance relating to motor vehicles," Senate File 19 states.
The ban would go into effect July 1, though tickets for alleged violations mailed prior to that date would still have to be paid under the proposal. Should that fail, Zaun introduced Senate File 20 as an alternative that would direct 100 percent of the net profit from running the camera program to charities. County boards of supervisors would have to create a committee of five residents responsible for finding 501c(3) non-profit organizations located within the county to receive the funds. By removing the profit incentive, few cities would continue to use automated enforcement.
Zaun's last bill, Senate File 21, imposes minimal restrictions regarding signs and other procedures that largely mirror existing photo enforcement practices. Of note is the legislation would prohibit a state-run speed camera program and limit red light camera fines to $50. Speed camera tickets would be tied to the amount collected for police-issued tickets, which are capped at $625 each.
Already, twenty-four lobbyists for local governments and traffic camera companies have disclosed they are actively working against Zaun's camera ban. This includes representatives for Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, the Iowa League of Cities, the Iowa Police Chief Association, the insurance industry, Dutch speed camera maker Gatso, and UK speed camera firm Redspeed. Lobbyists for Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia are currently listed as "undecided."
Governor Terry Branstad (R) has already agreed to sign the bill should one make it through the General Assembly. A copy of Iowa's SF19 is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.