The Senate Transportation Committee has voted to let the full, 50-member Senate consider a bill that would raise the speed limit on Iowa’s rural stretches of Interstate to 70. The bill, however, did not win the committee’s outright approval, just a pass to get to move one step farther in the legislature. Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Waterloo, was the bill’s manager in committee. “I understand that this is a difficult decision for each and every one of us, deeply personal, tied to our own experiences, our own research,” Danielson says. He cites a report from the Triple-A that concludes raising the speed limit won’t raise auto insurance rates or cause more accidents. “They believe the vast majority of motorists will travel at reasonable and prudent speeds regardless of the posted speed limits,” Danielson says. He also says raising the Interstate speed limit to 70 will improve the traffic flow by ensuring more cars and trucks are traveling at a similar rate of speed. Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, does not want to raise the speed limit. “We’re fighting a war now, arguably, over fuel and there’s just no reason to make the Saudi royal family happier or richer by doing this,” Dearden says. Dearden warned that more people will die in the state of Iowa every year because of the higher speed limit. Senator Steve Warnstadt, a Democrat from Sioux City, doesn’t like the bill because the extra money from speeding fines would be used to help run the court system and to buy new patrol cars for troopers. “We’re basing the funding of the state court system on people’s speeding. We’re going to base the state troopers’ ability to get new cars on the hopes, on the hopes that people will violate the law,” Warnstadt says. McCoy disagrees. “Those officers (who) are out there patrolling the highways, providing public safety…it’s appropriate that the funds that fund that department ought to come from the violators (who) disobey the law,” McCoy says. Last week, the Iowa House voted 51-to-49 in favor of raising the Interstate speed limit and doubling speeding fines.
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