3/1/2006 2:20:00 PM Guest Column Controversial bills up for vote
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For The Daily News
With the deadline approaching for substantive House bills to pass out to the Senate and vice-versa, there was more action in the House last week. We can also expect controversial bills to advance to a vote this week as well since the deadline for passing bills over to the "second chamber" is Friday. This week, I will catch you up on some bills that passed the House last week and provide updates on measures I have discussed in the past.
There are already laws regarding driving without car insurance. But the current laws do not seem to have an effect on some uninsured motorists. HB 4301 states that while a person is serving a suspension for driving an uninsured motor vehicle, and is caught driving an uninsured motor vehicle again, that the previous suspension shall be extended an additional six months. The obvious hope is that the additional suspension time will make the uninsured think twice.
The first attempt to pass a gun law this year barely failed and might come up for another vote next week. HB 4694 makes it illegal for any person to store or leave, within premises under his or her control, a firearm if the person knows or has reason to believe that a minor under the age of 18 years who does not have a Firearm Owners Identification Card is likely to gain access to the firearm without permission of the minor's parent, guardian, or person having charge of the minor. If the minor causes death or great bodily harm using the unlawfully stored firearm, the penalty is a Class A misdemeanor to the owner of the gun. The bill also goes on to state that if the firearm is placed in a securely locked box or container, it must be unloaded and disassembled. The law does not apply to an 18-year-old serving in the military.
For people who have a gun for protection, this means that they would have to leave the gun unassembled and locked up. The opposition believes this legislation, while possibly well-intended, actually makes homes safe for burglars. There are many other concerns about this bill as well. However, it is likely that an all-out attempt by House Democratic leadership will be made to pass this legislation next week in the House.
More new legislation regarding the technological world we live in also passed in the House. HB 5299 creates the Internet Dating Disclosure and Safety Awareness Act. The measure requires an online dating service provider offering services to residents of this state to disclose whether or not they initiate a background check of felony and sex offense convictions. While many people say it is impossible to legislate the Internet, this bill attempts to do just that. The bill passed with only 74 "yes" votes out of 118 and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
There has been an increase in the frequency of attempts to impersonate police officers in Illinois. In fact, in some areas, there have been serious crimes committed by "fake" cops. HB 5336 increases the penalty for impersonation of a police officer (or fireman) to a Class 2 felony. The bill passed unanimously.
In an effort to determine the health status of a newborn, HB 4306 was passed. This measure requires health-care professionals to inform a pregnant woman that, should she refuse HIV testing during pregnancy, her newborn infant will be tested for HIV. The law also requires reports of preliminarily HIV-positive women and preliminarily HIV-exposed newborn infants to be reported to the Department of Public Health and the General Assembly.
HB 5216 provides for the seizure and forfeiture of a motor vehicle used in the commission of the offense of stalking or aggravated stalking. The vehicle would be seized upon conviction of stalking or aggravated stalking. The bill passed unanimously.
Under HB 4310, all new school-board members would need to take an oath upon entering service. This is a very watered-down version of a bill that would have required board training and other rather onerous conditions on those who want to serve, for no pay, on local school boards. Another bill that pertains to school-board members that passed last week requires the member to report to a school administrator any instance in which they have knowledge of child sexual abuse.
HB 4529 was a victory of sorts for gun owners. It states that when the Department of State Police fails to act upon an application for a FOID Card within 30 days after receipt, or if the application was wrongfully denied, the applicant may seek relief from the circuit court in writing in the county of his or her residence.
The applicant is entitled to recover any costs, attorney's fees, damages, and not less than $100 per day or more than $500 per day for every day past the 30th day in which the Department failed to act.
Student drivers will have to log 50 hours rather than 25 hours of driving with their parents or other adult under HB 4768 (now headed to the Senate). The doubling of the practice time is an initiative of insurance companies. Ten of those hours would be required to be night driving.
Next week, we are likely to see a vote on the statewide indoor smoking ban, a vote on a bill that would increase fines and penalties for owners of dogs that run at large and injure children and a vote on the semi-automatic weapons ban. Things are heating up! Don't forget, you can track legislation at www.ilga.gov.
If you have any comments, please write me at either P.O. Box 125,Hutsonville, IL 62433 or 222-N Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also keep you updated on my Web site: www.peopleforeddy.com.
Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) represents the 109th District in the Illinois House of Representatives.