Legislature, by 131-13 tally, votes to regulate traffic cameras

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has sent the governor a bill to set up state regulations for traffic cameras that generate tickets for speeding.

Senator Mike Klemish of Spillvillle says cities and counties will have to get a traffic camera permit from the Iowa Department of Transportation. “The DOT may grant the permit based on if the local authority can show that a speed camera is the appropriate, necessary and least restrictive means to address the traffic hazards at the proposed location,” Klemish says.

Cities and counties will have to submit information to justify the speed limit in the area where a camera is placed, along with data about the number and severity of traffic accidents in the area. “I think we’ve set up a very robust regulatory framework…and actually require cities and municipalities to prove the concept, to prove they need to have these traffic cameras in these locations,” Klemish says. “We’ve also put in place guidelines for where they can spend their money.”

The fines from traffic camera tickets must be used on law enforcement. Legislators have been debating whether to ban or regulate traffic cameras since 2011.

Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moines says there’s a need for automated traffic cameras in urban areas of the state, including the Des Moines freeway where he says it’s too dangerous for police to pull speeding motorists over and issue tickets.  “Those of you in this room who drive I-235 coming to and from the Capitol, if you haven’t sensed that your life’s in jeopardy at times by people who have no regard for your safety and theirs,” Bisignano said.

Senator Lynn Evans, a Republican from Aurelia, was the only senator to vote against the bill. The House passed the bill last Tuesday on an 85-to-12 vote.