The Iowa House has narrowly voted to raise the speed limit on rural stretches of Interstate to 70 — and raise the speeding fines in those zones, too. The bill passed on a 51-to-49 vote, with all but one Republican supporting it and all but one Democrat opposing it. Representative David Tjepkes, a Republican from Gowrie, is a retired state trooper who backs the higher speed limit. “There is no doubt in my mind that this is a good thing,” Tjepkes says. Representative Clel Baudler (BAWD-ler), a Republican from Greenfield who is also a retired trooper, argued the speeding fines should be even higher for those who are going above 80 miles per hour. He’s been keeping track of the speeds of other cars as he drives between Greenfield and Des Moines. “Going home against a stiff northwest wind…one car passed me at an estimated speed of well over 100 miles an hour,” Baudler says. “I believe it was a Lexus. It was from Iowa.” The extra money raised by the higher speeding fines outlined in the bill would be used to buy new cars for state troopers. Representative Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale, says over 100 troopers are driving patrol cars that have more than 110-thousand miles on the odometer. “This is a safety risk. These troopers are in cars that none of us would drive,” Raecker says. “We’ve had troopers (who) have lost the transmission falling out as they backed out of their driveway. What happens if they’re at a hundred miles an hour on the Interstate and that happens and they cause the death of another citizen or the loss of their own life?” But Representative Paul Bell, a Democrat from Newton who’s a cop, says people who’re pulled over for speeding won’t react well. “I can only imagine the amount of criticism the officers will receive because the tickets they write will go to buy them a new patrol car,” Bell says. Representative Don Shoultz, a Democrat from Waterloo, spoke against raising the speed limit to 70, which is the average speed at which cars are moving on the Interstates. “I don’t think the fact that a lot of people break a law is really a very good reason for changing the law,” Shoultz says. The leader of the Democrats in the Iowa House said earlier this week Democrats wouldn’t support the hike in speeding fines until Republicans support a hike in the cigarette tax.
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