Tougher litterbug laws OK'd in Iowa, Illinois

| 7/26/2006

Two Midwestern states are ramping up their efforts to deter people from discarding items along roads.

Gov. Tom Vilsack signed a bill into law in Iowa doubling the fines for dumping and littering along Iowa roads and in state parks. The new fines take effect Aug. 15.

Supporters say current fines are too low to be a deterrent or to make police focus on anti-littering enforcement.

The new law, previously SF2319, increases the fine for littering along highways from $35 to $70. The penalty for littering in state parks increases from $15 to $30.

In addition, illegal dumping of garbage will net offenders a $1,000 fine – up from $500.

Half of the revenue generated will be routed to the Iowa Department of Transportation for cleanup of litter and illegal dumping. The remaining portion will go to the general fund of the county where the offense occurred.

Iowa wasn’t the only Midwestern state to approve an effort to get tough with litterbugs.

In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a measure – HB4451 – that will open the possibility that people caught littering on the state’s roads might be forced to adopt it and clean it up.

Existing state law allows that anyone caught in the act of throwing out trash can be fined up to $500. But the new law allows judges to sentence litterbugs to 30 days of picking up refuse on the stretch of road they trashed or a nearby location.

The new rule takes effect next year.