DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has voted to ban traffic enforcement cameras in Iowa. In addition, the bill would deny Iowa vehicle information to other states with automated ticketing systems, so Iowans wouldn’t have to pay any ticket anywhere for speeding or running a red light that’s generated by a traffic camera.
Republican Senator Jake Chapman of Adel said traffic cameras are used “to generate revenue” for cities.
“You know, we’ve heard these called ‘gotcha cams,’” Chapman said. “I call them ‘scam cams’ because that’s what they are. They’re scamming people.”
Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, has been trying for nearly a decade to get rid of traffic cameras in the state.
“I almost want to smile today,” Zaun said during Senate debate. “…I could go on and on and on. I’ve become the ‘poster boy’ on this, but the fact is, it’s the right thing to do.”
Claire Celsi, a Democrat from Des Moines, voted against the traffic cam ban after revealing she got a ticket in the mail on Monday because she was caught speeding by a camera on the Des Moines freeway.
“You know, I deserved it. I was going, I think, 76 in a 60,” Celsi said, pausing as one of her colleagues said, prompting other senators audibly react with a gasp or laughter. “When I get those tickets, I say to myself: ‘Self, slow down.’”
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said people in his city are “fed up” with vehicles running red lights at a high rate of speed and red light cameras have recently been installed at some Waterloo intersections.
“I know that this is an ongoing discussion in my community and I have seen a shift in people’s concerns about the traffic cameras,” said Dotzler, who has voted before to ban the cameras, but voted against the ban today.
Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, voted for the bill to “advance the conversation.”
“I don’t support banning traffic cameras, but I do support more heavily regulating them,” Whiting said. “We need to do this in a responsible way. We need to address the legitimate due process concerns that have been raised in the current system and we need to equip our state and local governments with the tools they feel are necessary to advance transportation and public safety.”
A bill eligible for debate in the Iowa House takes the regulatory approach. It would require proof cameras are placed in areas to improve public safety. The bill also would take 60 percent of the fines away from the cities and instead use that money to finance Iowa Department of Public Safety operations.