DES MOINES — Two Senate committees are traveling separate routes in dealing with cameras monitoring Iowa streets and highways for speeders and red-light violators — one favoring an outright ban and the other allowing them to continue under tighter state regulation.
Bipartisan members of the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill with eight supporters and four opponents that would ban electronic traffic monitoring devices July 1, sending Senate File 3 to the debate calendar for further consideration. Before passing the measure, senators amended it to make sure the language did not adversely impact other law enforcement devices used in work zones.
“It’s been down here for so many years I think most people are very familiar with the issue and minds are made up,” said committee chairman Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, the bill’s sponsor. “I have bipartisan support for getting rid of those traffic cameras.”
Tuesday’s vote followed action last week in the Senate Transportation Committee where a bipartisan group of senators supported legislation 12-1 to regulate rather than eliminate traffic enforcement cameras.
Senate File 196 would subject fixed and mobile camera deployments to state approval and direct profits to infrastructure improvements within the jurisdictions operating cameras that issue revenue-generating tickets.
It also would require advance signage at approved camera locations, weekly calibration of electronic traffic monitoring equipment and peace officer review of citations that are issued. It also capped civil penalties so they do not exceed the existing fine schedule for speeding violations under state law and would “grandfather” cameras at locations approved by the state Department of Transportation before Jan. 1 of this year.
The fate of both bills now may fall to closed-door caucus discussions by majority Republicans and minority Democrats.
Senate Transportation Committee chairman Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone, said he wanted to give senators an alternative to just deciding yes or no on traffic enforcement cameras.
Zaun said the problem with Senate File 196 is it doesn’t “do away with the abuses” by local communities using the cameras as revenue generators or address citizens’ due process concerns associated with tickets being issued to the owner of a vehicle cited for a violation. He also said he believe there was more support in the House for his bill to ban the enforcement cameras.
“I’m hopeful that this is the bill that gets passed,” Zaun said after Tuesday’s committee meeting.
“I’m going to have to do some selling to my caucus but I still feel very confident that I’m going to be able to get this through the Senate,” he added. “Obviously, I’m going to be very passionate to my caucus about why we need to remove them.”