A wide-ranging bill that deals with everything from fancy martinis to state funding for schools has cleared the Iowa Senate. Several Republican senators tried to resurrect others issues, like a ban on traffic enforcement cameras, by trying to attach them to the bill, but Democrats used parliamentary rules to block them.
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, tried unsuccessfully to set the fourth Monday in August as the first day of school in Iowa. “I hear from more families and teachers every year who want an end to the early- to mid-August school start,” Johnson said.
Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, tried but failed to get a Senate vote on a traffic camera ban. “The citations are out of control,” Zaun said. “They’re anywhere in the state of Iowa from $60 to $300. There…are no laws in place that tells communities how much they can charge.”
Zaun suggested the companies that put up the cameras are guilty of a bit of highway robbery, as their cut of ticket revenue runs as high as 58%. “I’ve heard from hundreds if not thousands of Iowans that are upset about this,” Zaun said. “This has got to be shut down.”
But the senate president ruled Zaun’s proposal to ban traffic cameras was not eligible for consideration. Proposals related to gun rights and drivers ed for home schoolers met the same fate.
But a few Republican proposals did survive, like requiring judges who’re deciding child custody case to consider whether a parent had ever let the child near a person on the sex offender registry. That won unanimous support from the Senate. Another proposal Republican
Senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City won support from all but two senators. It will let restaurants and bars keep mixed drinks like margaritas or “infuse” liquor for up to 72 hours.
“We can walk within about a three-block radius of the capitol and there’s multiple businesses that are doing this already, so this just brings everybody into compliance,” Bertrand said. Some bartenders, for example, soak fruit or candy in vodka to create exotic martinis. However, under current law, bars are technically breaking the law to keep such “infused” liquors or mixed drinks around for more than 24 hours.
It’s unclear how many more hours, days or weeks — the legislature will be in session before winding up the 2012 session. Legislative leaders say some progress was made on a few budget issues and negotiators may sit down today to review other proposals.