ARTICLE

Branstad says he would sign a traffic camera ban

Governor noted he was fined $200 in Arizona; said the cameras pose a “sense of unfairness”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad listens to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at the Statehouse
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad listens to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

DES MOINES – Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday he would sign legislation to ban traffic-monitoring devices if the General Assembly sent him a bill this session.

The governor made the comments on a day that a Des Moines radio talk show host and the executive director of the ACLU of Iowa delivered petitions bearing more than 10,000 signatures of Iowans opposing the red-light or speed cameras currently operated by a growing number of cities in Iowa.

Also Wednesday, 24 House Republicans introduced legislation to prohibit the traffic-monitoring devices effective immediately and to have all the automated traffic law enforcement equipment removed from Iowa roadways by July 1.

“If the General Assembly were to approve legislation banning this, I would be pleased to sign it,” Branstad told WHO-AM radio talk show host Simon Conway and ACLU of Iowa leader Ben Stone.

“It’s kind of a big brother thing. I think people don’t like that idea,” the governor said. “I’ve heard a lot of concerns, a lot of complaints about this.”

Branstad, who noted he was fined about $200 after being clocked by an electronic-monitoring device for going 10 mph over the speed limit while traveling through the Arizona desert driving a rental car, said there is a “sense of unfairness” that people feel in not being able to face their accuser – something that runs counter to the American system of justice.

“I believe we have other, better ways to protect public safety than the proliferation of these devices,” the governor said. “We’re seeing now a lot of communities are looking at this as a way to raise a bunch of money. I think there’s growing concern among the citizens that this is not really the right or fair way to do it.”

Branstad said Iowa has made dramatic progress in protecting public safety, noting that last year’s traffic death toll was the lowest since 1944.

“I will tell you that if the Legislature passes a law to ban them, I will sign it,” he said.

House File 2048, which was filed on Wednesday, prohibits the use of automated traffic law enforcement systems in Iowa.

The bill, which has been assigned to a House Transportation subcommittee, requires that a local authority currently using an automated traffic law enforcement system shall discontinue using the system on or before the effective date of the bill. The legislation, if passed by the House and Senate, would take effect upon the governor’s signature.All automated traffic law enforcement system equipment would have to be removed from Iowa highways by July 1. A local authority’s ordinance authorizing the use of automated traffic law enforcement systems would be considered void on the effective date of the bill, but notices of violations mailed or citations issued under such an ordinance would be valid and processed according to the prior law.