Iowans would no longer be able to write a check to just any charity to get out of a speeding ticket under a bill that cleared the House yesterday (Thursday. Representative Carmine Boal, a Republican from Ankeny, says a few officials came under fire last year for allowing speeders to plead guilty to the lesser offense of vehicle equipment violations if they made a contribution to a charity the official specified. “Judges and prosecutors were hand-picking their favorite charities for such contributions, giving the appearance of impropriety,” Boal says. Under the bill that cleared the House yesterday, Iowans will still be able to get out of a speeding ticket by making a donation to a charity, but House members picked the charity — Iowa Legal Aid, formerly known as Legal Services. If the bill becomes law, all charitable contributions that’re part of a plea deal on any offense will have to be made to Legal Services. “It is a non-profit organization that provides critical legal assistance to low-income Iowans who have nowhere else to turn for legal help,” Boal says. “It also provides services to residents in all 99 counties with offices in 10 cities.” Both state and federal funding for Legal Aid has been cut, and Boal says the Legal Aid offices in Iowa have to turn away about eight-hundred people each month. “This sentencing option will provide a steadier source of income to help fund these offices,” Boal says. The Cass County Attorney lost his job after critics charged he was letting speeders “buy justice” by making a charitable donation.
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