December 19, 2014

Branstad: “84 miles an hour is too fast”

Governor Terry Branstad is traveling in Europe today, but during a conference call with Iowa reporters he addressed the recent controversy over his speeding SUV.

In late April a state trooper clocked a vehicle carrying the governor and lieutenant governor — and being driven by another state trooper — going 84 miles an hour on Highway 20 — in an area where 65 is the speed limit.

“Both the lieutenant governor and I have great respect for the public safety professionals that provide protection for us and for the people of Iowa,” Branstad said. “We do believe, however, that 84 miles an hour is too fast and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.”

In 1954 Iowa’s governor was killed when the car he was driving smashed into the back of a truck and a long-standing state law requires state Highway Patrol officers to drive Iowa’s governors. Branstad was asked today how he would ensure the vehicles he’s riding in are not speeding.

“We don’t have any specific procedures with regard to that, except we just think it’s important that we not only enforce the laws but we also need to obey the speed limit laws as well,” Branstad said.

On Monday the lieutenant governor said she and the governor have an “ambitious schedule” and sometimes when they’re tardy in leaving one event speeding is necessary to get to the next. She also said the Iowa Department of Public Safety was conducting a review of the policies for state troopers who drive the state’s top two officials and the people who draft their schedules.

Branstad is in the midst of a trip to Europe. He started in Kosovo, signing a sister-state agreement with the former war-torn country, before visiting the Veneto region of Italy, which has been Iowa’s sister state for several years. He has meetings scheduled in Germany and Switzerland with business “decision-makers” considering Iowa as a place to do business, but Branstad says the details of those meetings are confidential business matters.