The Governor concluded action on all bills sent to him during the 2014 legislative session, approving more than 100 measures and vetoing bills that would have established regulations for ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar and brought uniformity to speed limits on Interstates and toll highways.
Among the more notable measures signed during the week were several measures affecting crime and courts.
Patronage Scandal Grows
Also, in recent days, the Governor’s office has come under heavy fire for a growing patronage controversy within the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The patronage issue has been festering for months, after a prominent anti-patronage attorney filed a motion in federal court in April alleging that the Blagojevich and Quinn administrations violated a federal court order by classifying workers as exempt from anti-patronage rules, even though the work they were doing did not qualify for the exemptions.
In August, the Office of the Executive Inspector General issued a highly critical report, which essentially confirmed the claims in the federal court filing, saying the Department of Transportation consistently used job titles exempt from patronage regulations to hire politically connected persons and place them in jobs doing work that should have fallen under civil service rules.
Although Governor Pat Quinn claimed his office was not involved in the patronage hiring, that claim has been disputed by former Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider who said “the vast majority” of improper political hires were referred to the agency by the Governor’s office. Most recently, Quinn’s Deputy Chief of Staff who oversaw the Department of Transportation for the Governor and also oversaw hiring of senior officials in exempt positions within the agency resigned, effective at the end of August.
Vetoed Bills – Ridesharing
The Governor finished out action on legislation by issuing controversial vetoes on two subjects – ridesharing and speed limits.
On the ridesharing issue, vetoes were issued on two bills, House Bill 4075 and House Bill 5331. Both dealt with the competition between traditional taxi companies and new startups, like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which offer rides to customers who connect through smart phone applications.
House Bill 4075 imposed new statewide regulations on the companies. Proponents argued that the requirements were needed to assure customer safety by establishing insurance requirements and banning agreements that exempt the companies from liability.
Opponents argued that the legislation was a thinly-veiled effort by traditional taxi companies to protect their business and shut out competition from the ridesharing companies.
While the original measure imposed greater restrictions on drivers who worked more than 18 hours a week, the companion bill, House Bill 5331, allowed drivers to “bank” that time, so that they could work more hours during weeks when special events occurred without triggering the higher restrictions.
Speed Limit Veto
Also vetoed was Senate Bill 2015, a follow-up measure I sponsored to a new law, which I also sponsored, that raised the speed limit on Interstate highways in Illinois to 70 mph in January. That speed limit is consistent with most other states, including almost all Midwestern states.
Senate Bill 2015 would have brought the state’s Toll Highway system in the Chicago region up to the same 70 mph standard.
The Governor says he vetoed my legislation because data shows that drivers on the tollways are already exceeding the speed limits – which is the same argument opponents used for our original law that now allows the 70 mph limit on other Illinois highways. It is an argument we have already addressed in the original law. Those who exceed the 70 mph limit now face tougher penalties.
One of the Governor’s favorite catch-phrases is “Let the will of the people be the law of the land,” yet when he disagrees with the will of the people, he vetoes popular legislation. Senate Bill 2015 was sponsored by 39 lawmakers from both political parties in both the Senate and the House, representing Chicago, suburban and downstate areas of Illinois. It appears that most of lawmakers do not agree with Quinn, and I will be asking them to join me in the fall session to override the Governor’s veto.
A number of bills signed into law would have an impact on criminal offenses and the courts. Among these was a measure (House Bill 3744) that would give judges greater flexibility to order electronic monitoring in domestic violence cases, even if an order of protection has not been issued.
Another bill would provide an exemption from prosecution for soliciting a sex act, if the person is younger than 18. Senate Bill 3558 is part of an ongoing effort to address sex trafficking involving minors and treat young persons forced into prostitution as victims.
In an effort to reduce misidentification in police lineups, House Bill 802 would require new procedures, including preventing the person administering the lineup from knowing the identity of the suspect and prohibiting anyone who knows the suspected perpetrator’s identity from participating in the lineup, aside from the witness and the defendants’ counsel.
The use of ignition interlock devices that test a person’s breath alcohol before a car can be started, would be expanded under House Bill 4304 to include cases where the person did not injure anyone other than themselves in the accident that prompted the restriction.
And in order to help prevent financial or other abuse of the disabled, Senate Bill 3538 would add to the false personation statute, anyone who knowingly and falsely represents themselves as the legal guardian of a disabled person.
Bills signed into law
Each year, the General Assembly has 30 days to send legislation to the Governor’s desk and he has 60 days to act on the bills.
Because the Legislature adjourned at the beginning of June, all measures must be either approved or vetoed by the end of August. Information about the bills signed into law during the week of August 25-29 is available by clicking here.