Friday, February 18, 2011

Iowa lawmakers look to curb accessible parking abuses

From The Des Moines Register:

Abuses of disabled parking permits by non-handicapped people are raising concerns among state lawmakers.

An Iowa House subcommittee today considered a bill asking the Iowa Department of Transportation to conduct a study focusing on the fraudulent use of persons with disabilities parking placards, registration plates and stickers, and parking cones. The panel decided a study wasn’t needed, and legislators now intend to focus on possible solutions, said Rep. Jim Lykam, a Davenport Democrat who is one of the bill’s sponsors.

Lykam said he plans to confer with Rep. David Tjepkes, R-Gowrie, chairman of the Iowa House Transportation Committee, to determine whether the problem can be addressed administratively by DOT officials, or if a legislative change is required. One of his primary concerns is that there is currently no expiration date on permanent disability parking privileges, even if a person who holds the privileges is deceased.

“I think there are some abuses by people using these stickers after their loved ones have passed away,” Lykam said. “I just think this would help people who really need it and help keep other family members honest.”

Lykan said he is particularly troubled when he sees people who need disability parking spaces driving around and around a parking lot vainly looking for a vacant space.

The bill is House File 79, but Lykam said that if legislation proceeds on the issue he would amend the current version.