We hope this session marks the last time we hear and read about traffic camera debate in the Iowa Statehouse. We have lost count of how many sessions have included this obsessive discussion, with no change resulting.
This year, the Senate passed what in our view is a reasonable compromise on these divisive devices (after first rejecting a ban on them). Our hope is the House joins the Senate, passes the bill and finally puts the issue to rest, at least at the Capitol.
The Senate bill keeps traffic cameras in place, but requires local officials to justify placement of cameras on state and local roads and allows the equipment only in high-risk and high-crash areas. Money generated from traffic fines would have to be spent on road construction projects or public safety.
In our view, these rules strike an acceptable balance. Local jurisdictions would identify dangerous traffic locations, make the case to the state on why these locations are acceptable sites for cameras, and money produced by cameras at these locations would be directed to related areas of local budgets.
As we have said before, for reasons of public safety we prefer speed and red-light cameras remain legal traffic enforcement tools within a uniform set of rules, including fines. We also believe local officials, including our own here in Sioux City, should protect against overuse of them.
To these ends, we support the Senate bill and urge similar passage in the House.
If the courts rule against traffic cameras at some point in the future, so be it.
Until then, the Legislature should send to the governor a bill to regulate them, then move on.