Iowans who are stopped for speeding or not wearing a seat belt would face a bigger penalty under a bill approved by the Iowa Senate Tuesday. The measure would raise dozens of traffic fines and court fees. Democrats say the extra $8 million will help pay for public safety programs and keep courtrooms open in a tight budget year.
Republicans, like Randy Feenstra of Hull, call it a tax increase and say Iowans can’t afford to pay more when they’re caught violating a traffic law. “Frankly, if I were a police officer, I’d be ashamed to fine someone $145 for a seat belt ticket,” Feenstra said. “Democrats are floundering to find more revenue because they’ve overspent the last three years. Now ,they have no problem sticking it to the residents of Iowa.”
Democrats argue the new fees are in line with what other states charge and should make Iowa roadways safer. Feenstra calls the higher traffic fines “regressive.” “A single parent, if they get a seat belt ticket, it’s going to cost them $145. A young girl will pay $100 for a speeding ticket and an elderly woman, it’s going to cost 145 dollars to go through a stop sign,” Feenstra said.
The increases are included in a budget bill funding the state’s prisons. The bill passed on a strict party-line vote. It now goes to the House.