May 21, 2024

Week 14

By Jon Dunwell

This week, the Iowa House passed with overwhelming bipartisan support HF 2681: Regulation of Traffic Cameras. Over the last few years, we’ve heard Iowan’s frustration with the increasing number of speed cameras popping up around Iowa.

Cities and counties argue speed cameras are necessary to increase public safety. And in some cases that may be true. However, it’s clear some municipalities abuse these systems by using them merely to raise revenue. Regulation on speed cameras is long overdue.

Here’s what the bill stipulates:

1. Cities or counties must prove a legitimate safety concern and receive a permit from the Department of Transportation to install a traffic camera. Existing systems will be allowed to continue while under review. New cameras would fall underneath a 2026 moratorium to provide adequate time for existing DOT reviews.

2. Traffic cameras can only be used to issue tickets 10 miles over the speed limit.

3. Images taken by the traffic camera must be deleted within 30 days unless they are a part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

4. Signs must be placed between 500 and 1,000 feet in advance of any traffic camera.

5. Local governments can only use the money generated by traffic cameras for transportation infrastructure improvement or for their police and fire departments.

Last week the House moved the Health and Human Services budget through subcommittee. It appropriates $2.217 billion from the general fund to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services for Fiscal Year 2025, a $92.5 million increase compared to FY2024. In total with federal matching funds, it appropriates over $6 billion towards Medicaid, child care, child welfare, public health, aging, and veteran services in Iowa.

Highlights from the House HHS budget include:

Mental Health Care: The Iowa House has made increasing access to mental health care for Iowans a priority. This budget provides $2.25 million in increased state funding towards mental health Medicaid rates, building on last year’s $13 million increase. It also provides for an enhanced rate to Psychiatric Medical Institutes for Children that care for children with the most complex conditions.

Care for older Iowans: This budget provides a $3 million increase to home health rates to help keep Iowans in their homes longer and to ensure access to care in rural Iowa.

Protecting local pharmacies: We want to protect rural Iowans’ access to local pharmacies. This budget builds on the bills we’ve passed this session by increasing the Medicaid pharmacy dispensing fee by $2 million.

Quality care for disabled Iowans: We want to ensure disabled Iowans get the care and help they need. This budget increases home and community-based services rates to care for disabled Iowans in their communities with a $14.6 million investment. It also provides $5 million to increase access to enhanced case management for Iowans using long-term services and supports and provides $1.78 million to increase the eligibility for the Medicaid for Employed people with disabilities program.

Taking Care of Our Veterans: This budget funds the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Cemetery, and the Iowa Veterans Home at the Governor’s recommended level.

Child Welfare: This session, we set out to pass policies to ensure all children, especially those born into difficult situations, have the support they need. Regarding child welfare, this budget:

• Increases the stipend for those in the child welfare system utilizing the preparation for adult living program.

• Increases foster care rates and adoption subsidy rates.

• Pays for home studies for those Iowans that are hoping to adopt a child in need.

• Funds House File 2134 to expand subsidized apartment living.

Our week we will continue to be focused on budgets and taxes. Let’s keep the conversation