3/8/2006 2:26:00 PM Guest Column Crunch time in the legislature
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For The Daily News
As expected, it was a busy week in the House last week as third reading deadline was Friday, March 3. Some bills that I expected to see called for a vote were not. The "assault weapons ban" bill (HB 2414) did not get a roll-call vote. The bill that would have instituted an indoor smoking ban was also not called for a vote. While we still may see these measures revived before the scheduled April 7 adjournment date, that is unlikely. We now turn our attention to bills that passed out of the Senate during the first portion of the spring session, and the budget.
The compressed spring schedule will require any bills were passed over to the House from the Senate to receive very quick consideration. The House is not is session this week, so that leaves about four weeks for Senate bills to move through committee and get a vote on the House floor. During that short four-week period, we also must agree on a final version of a budget. Plus, any hope the governor has of forwarding his $3 billion capital spending bill must also find enough votes. So far, the governor still has not identified a funding source for the new bonding program necessary to fund a capital spending bill.
Last week did see votes on many bills I have discussed here. HB 4532, the "Let Them Rest in Peace" legislation, passed the House by a 114-2 margin. The bill creates the offense of disorderly conduct at a funeral or memorial service.
A person is guilty of this offense if he or she engages in any loud singing, playing of music, chanting, whistling, yelling, or noisemaking that is disturbing to the funeral site; displays any visual images that convey fighting words or actual or veiled threats against any other person; knowingly obstructs, hinders, impedes, or blocks another person's entry to or exit from that funeral site or a facility containing that funeral site; or knowingly engages in a march or picket at the funeral site at any public location located within 200 feet of any ingress or egress of that funeral site.
The legislation is in response to hateful protests that have taken place at the funerals of fallen soldiers. The two votes against this cited the First Amendment as their reason for the "no" vote. I voted "yes" and am certain that the framers did not have this type of speech in mind as being "protected."
Expect to pay an additional $25 fee for being placed on court supervision for driving violations. HB 4521 creates the new fee. The measure dedicates $20 of the fee to purchase new state police cars with $5 going to the circuit clerk's office.
In an effort to make coal mining safer in Illinois, the House passed a bill that would require many additional safety regulations for mining in Illinois. The new safety provisions are too lengthy to mention. But successful passage of this bill in the Senate plus the governor's signature would make Illinois mines among the safest in the country. There is some cost involved. The billed passed unanimously; there is no cost too high to save lives.
HB 4238 passed the House and amends the Animal Control Act. Under this measure, if the owner of a dog knowingly allows it to run at large and the dog inflicts serious physical injury or death to a person, the owner is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
You will remember the Governor's All Kids legislation that passed last year. It provided health insurance to all children in Illinois through age 18. The rules for that program have not been finalized. However, HB 4447, which extends the coverage to full-time college students through age 23, passed last week. This comes at a time when the state is months behind in payments to health-care providers and has $1.8 billion in unpaid bills for Medicaid claims. I voted "no." Now is not the time to pile more debt on to the state.
The resolution which mirrors legislation that I filed regarding the increase in timberland assessments passed the House last week. I am chief co-sponsor of HJR 95, which flew out of the House and now awaits consideration in the Senate. This measure allows assessors to halt the huge increases in timberland assessment while a task force comes up with proper assessment rules over the next two years.
This bipartisan measure is a great example of how good things can happen when both sides of the aisle work together to find solutions to problems. My thanks to the many people who contacted legislators to promote this resolution.
A bill that would have allowed driving certificates to be issued to immigrants failed to get enough votes to pass. HB 4748 would have provided a means for undocumented immigrants living in Illinois to get a driving certificate. Opponents of the bill pointed out that these individuals could obtain legal documentation by simply going through the immigration documentation process. The bill received only 52 votes. I voted "no."
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 Rddy (R-Hutsonville) represents the 109th District in the Illinois House of Representatives.