116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa Republicans have a bill to outlaw 'defund police.” But Iowa Democrats say other Republican-sponsored legislation would all but require it.
Iowa lawmakers in recent years have repeatedly proposed bills to ban or regulate traffic cameras operated by local governments. This year's GOP proposal would order the devices to be removed statewide, except on a certain span of highway in Cedar Rapids. The bill, Senate Study Bill 1176, recently earned committee approval and is eligible for further consideration.
Advocates say automated enforcement improves traffic safety. Opponents have a long list of concerns, including due process, privacy and skepticism over advocates' safety claims. But the one factor driving the discussion on both sides has often been money.
The surveillance lobby insists traffic cameras aren't a revenue grab, though stakeholders are also quick to expound all the good and necessary things they're doing with that huge revenue stream.
Traffic cameras generate millions of dollars in ticket revenue each year for cities, and for their corporate partners getting a share of the loot. In Cedar Rapids - where some cameras would be allowed to stay under the legislation - the devices are on pace to generate nearly $10 million this fiscal year.
Cities use revenue from tickets issued by cameras for public safety purposes, including to hire police officers and upgrade equipment.
Some Democrats say the targeted ban on traffic cameras amounts to defunding police, which started as a protest demand and turned into a line used by Republicans against Democrats. Now Democrats are turning it back in a fit of bipartisan fearmongering.
'I have listened all summer long how the Democrats want to defund the police. This bill in Des Moines alone is going to cost them $3 million in revenue that goes back to the police department - our public safety,” said State Sen. Kevin Kinney, D-Oxford, according to The Gazette's Des Moines bureau.
The truth is no influential policymaker in Iowa wants to defund police. Elected Republicans and Democrats are unanimous in their strong support for perpetual growth in law enforcement spending.
It is one of the long cons state and local governments pull on us - they create a new regulation or revenue stream and it soon becomes an integral piece of our lives. Then they insist we can't go back to the old times, the way it was only about a decade ago.
Iowa Republicans also are considering a bill to penalize local governments that 'defund police.” Senate File 479 would withhold state funding from cities and counties that reduce law enforcement spending incommensurate to their total budgets.
That's an idea lawmakers pulled out of the law enforcement reforms Gov. Kim Reynolds laid out in her Condition of the State address in January. 'There will be no talk of defunding the police here,” she bluntly insisted.
Depending on how their spending is accounted for, that proposal could force cities missing out on traffic camera revenue to plug the hole with other dollars or seek approval from state bureaucrats for their budget reductions.
But rest assured, cameras or not, our police will be well funded. Both parties insist on it.
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