Senate bill sets $135 for left-lane loitering

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would establish a $135 fine for motorists caught lingering too long in the left hand lane.

During Tuesday’s debate, Senator Mike Klemish of Spillville said under current Iowa law, drivers are to mostly stay in the right hand lane unless they’re passing another vehicle.

“Any vehicle driving less than the normal speed of traffic must be driven in the rightmost part of road,” Klemish said. “The bill strengthens these provisions already in Iowa Code by requiring all vehicles to drive in the rightmost lane unless undergoing certain driving procedures.”

That means using the left lane only for passing, to avoid some obstruction in the right hand lane or to take an exit that requires driving in the left lane. The bill passed on a 38-8 vote. Senator William Dotzler of Waterloo, one of the “no” votes, said it’s “aggravating” to have a slow moving vehicle in the left lane, but Dotzler said he’s concerned about the safety of bicyclists riding along the side of city streets that have two lanes of traffic in both directions.

“If you’ve got a line of cars compressed in one lane, then as a driver you’re looking at the backside of those vehicles and you cannot see a bicyclist on the side of the road,” Dotzler said. “It’s dangerous.”

If the bill becomes law, police and state troopers could issue warnings for left lane loitering during the first 12 months, then the fine would take effect on July 1st of next year.

Senators have unanimously passed another bill that would make it a felony to call 911 and falsely report a mass shooting, a hostage situation or some other allegation that would prompt a massive law enforcement response. They’ve been dubbed “SWATTING” calls — a reference to “Special Weapons and Tactics” of SWAT teams. Officials in Iowa and around the country say SWATTING calls are becoming more frequent.