‘Scam Cams,’ Senator Says During Vote to Ban Traffic Cams; Other Senator Says She Got Busted by One

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DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa lawmaker admits she recently got caught by an automatic traffic camera for speeding, but she still opposed a bill approved in the Senate Tuesday that bans the devices.

“I was going 76 in a 60,” Senator Claire Celsi, a West Des Moines Democrat said.

“Ohh,” then filled the chamber as colleagues reacted to her admission.

Celsi said she got caught speeding in Interstate 235 in Des Moines but she doesn’t bill the legislature to stop a community’s ability to use the cameras as a safety measure. “When people get a traffic camera ticket, I think it frees up law enforcement to do other things,” Celsi said.

But by a 30-19 vote, senators approved the measure. Senator Brad Zaun, an Urbandale Republican, has fought the use of traffic cameras for nearly a decade. “I almost want to smile,” Zaun said as he stood on the Senate floor during the debate.

Zaun floor managed the failed efforts in the past. Senator Jake Chapman, an Adel Republican, took over the lead this year. Zaun hopes it results in a better outcome. “It doesn’t go against your driving record. It doesn’t affect your insurance policy. It’s really been abusive,” Zaun said of the traffic camera tickets.

The bill goes to the House, where members are reviewing a different proposal that wouldn’t provide the same outright ban on the cameras. Instead, communities would have to prove a camera offers a public safety benefit and they would have to turn over 60 percent of the fines to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

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