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Two Bills Advance in Iowa Senate to End Traffic Cameras

DES MOINES, Iowa - A pair of bills in the Iowa Senate seek to curb the usage of speed cameras statewide, and they're both advancing.

The bill making the most headway so far is Senate File 3 from Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), banning traffic cameras from existing in the state altogether. Zaun says he has broad support from both sides of the aisle in the Senate, and the Iowa House has a history of supporting this legislation in previous sessions. Governor Branstad has even indicated he will sign the bill into law, should it pass both chambers.

"Since December, when I knew, after the election, that Republicans were going to be in the majority, which means that I can move this legislation forward, I have said many, many times, and in every interview, that cities need to make adjustments to their budget," Zaun said. "At least have a back-up plan, if they're not going to have these revenues."

Some cities, like Des Moines and Windsor Heights, haven't acknowledged the pending legislation as they budget for revenue from traffic cameras this year. Windsor Heights has even installed two new traffic cameras, set to go live at midnight on January 27. Zaun's bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, and is now eligible for a floor vote.

An alternative bill is right behind Zaun's, filed by Senator Tim Kapucian (R-Keystone). Senate Study Bill 1019 would allow for some traffic cameras to exist, but only if the city can prove there is a safety issue in that area, and if the Iowa DOT signs off on it.

"I come from Eastern Iowa, and I'm about 30 miles out from Cedar Rapids," Kapucian said. "And I think we have a little bit different perspective over on that side of the state, where the traffic cameras I'm familiar with are used on the elevated S-curves of 380 in Cedar Rapids. And it created - before those traffic cameras, it was kind of a dangerous, elevated S-curves, winter time, all kinds of things - high traffic flow. It was to the point where people were afraid to drive on it. Since the traffic cameras, I feel it's more reasonable."

Kapucian's bill passed a Senate Transportation subcommittee Thursday morning. He expects it to make it out of the committee by the middle of next week. However, he admits if Zaun's bill makes it out of the Senate chamber before then, his bill may be moot.