Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Quinn signs environment and election bills

By Jamey Dunn

After releasing his plan to cut the state budget last Thursday, Gov. Pat Quinn spent time over the holiday weekend signing bills into law. Here are some of the measures the governor recently approved:

House Bill 6099
requires commercial lawn care companies to test soil before applying phosphorous fertilizers. The soil has to show a deficiency of the element before the fertilizer could be used. Phosphorous has been linked to a 6,300 square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, where algae chokes out most other life.

The bill went into effect once the governor signed it. For more on HB 6099, phosphorous and the dead zone see the current (June/July) Illinois Issues, page 32.

Senate Bill 2951 is intended to protect bicyclists from threats. The new law will make verbally harassing or “crowding” a bicyclist by driving dangerously close a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and $2,500 fine. The law also protects pedestrians and individuals riding horses or driving a vehicle pulled by an animal.

Senate Bill 2798 creates a “Share the Road” cycling-themed license plate. Money from plate sales will go to the League of Illinois Bicyclists for safety education programs. Twelve other states participate in the program.

Both bills will go into effect January 1. For more on biking in Illinois, see the current (June/July) Illinois Issues page 22.

Senate Bill 3012 creates a pilot program that for grace period voting and early registration on college campuses during the general election in November. It took effect upon Quinn’s approval.

Pension Borrowing

Quinn said today he does not expect the Senate to return the Capitol before November to vote on almost $4 billion in borrowing to make the required pension payment for this fiscal year. Quinn said Senate President John Cullerton plans to call his chamber back on November 4. When legislators do come back, Quinn expects them to approve the measure.

“The members of the Senate, they have a duty to look at a bill that passed the House dealing with borrowing. We have been told by the Senate president that that will be addressed, and we expect him to do it. And when he does it, calls the bill, then they’ll have a vote, and I am sure it will pass,” he said at a Chicago press conference.

Quinn admonished legislators for pushing difficult budget decisions off to him. “The Senate is not going to vote on this bill, it appears until the 4th of November. I’ll have to deal with that. We will deal with it, like we’ve dealt with everything. The General Assembly doesn’t have a lot of fortitude when it comes to raising revenue or making cuts. They made that crystal clear.”

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