The fear of a “big brother” society is driving some legislators to support a bill that would ban traffic enforcement cameras in Iowa. Others, like House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, say they’re concerned cities are using the tickets from traffic cameras to raise revenue.
“I’m from Linn County. We have both speed cameras and the red light cameras,” Paulsen says. “I don’t know a whole lot about the red light cameras. I haven’t had much exposure to them. I can tell you that the speed cameras on Interstate-380, the S-curve as it moves through town, has absolutely changed how people drive. I think that’s good.”
But Paulsen says the real problem isn’t how these cameras are operating today and that’s why the House last year tried to establish limits on the fines on tickets issued by traffic cameras.
“The problem is, well, how are these going to develop over time and experience in other states tell us that instead of a focus on public safety, it will turn into a focus on money, so it seems to me that we ought to be able to provide some regulatory framework for them to operate in,” Paulsen says. “But if we can’t do that, I’m not interested in leaving an unfettered, I guess culture of surveillance or government surveillance out there. I don’t think that’s acceptable either.”
Paulsen used his authority to keep a bill alive that would ban traffic enforcement cameras in Iowa and the legislation may be debated in the House next week.
“The interest seems to go up and down, but if a bill has nine lives, it’s definitely this one,” Paulsen says.
Paulsen made his comments during a weekend appearance on the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press” which airs again Sunday at noon.