The Iowa House has voted to tack a new fee onto speeding tickets and other criminal penalties. Representative George Eichhorn, a republican from Stratford, says the two-percent surcharge on speeding tickets and other criminal fines would raise about 700-thousand dollars a year to buy and maintain equipment in the State Crime Lab. “To effectively have the best equipment there, we need a funding source. This is the funding source,” Eichhorn says. Representative Rob Hogg, a democrat from Cedar Rapids, says federal funding for the lab ran out in December and the money’s needed to replace “aged equipment.” “Normally, I don’t think any of us would like to do this, but there is a compelling reason why we need to and that’s so that we can have the highest quality crime lab that we can have,” Hogg says. But Representative Bruce Hunter, a democrat from Des Moines, says the state is already assessing a 30 percent surcharge on speeding tickets and other court fines — and it’s getting excessive. Hunter says it’s a backdoor tax increase. “It’s going to get to a point some day where it’s going to be cheaper to go to jail or to lose your license than to pay the extra surcharges that we’re adding on to these fines,” Hunter says. Representative Michael Reasoner, a democrat from Creston, says he, too, is reluctant to increase fees,but this is a special case.”Ultimately, we do have to find a way to fund those functions of state government which we are responsible for,” Reasoner says. “The bottom line is we have equipment that we as a state must furnish so the people who are charged with their responsibilities can do their job.” The bill passed on a 95 to three vote. It must pass the Senate and be signed by the governor before it becomes law.
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