11/8/2006 3:10:00 PM Guest Column Veto of sex-offender bill will be reviewed
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For the Daily News
Last week, I mentioned that there are only a handful of bills vetoed by the governor that will likely be voted upon this fall during the veto session in an effort to override the governor's veto. This week, I will describe some of those bills along with details as to how I voted on the original bill and the likely action on the legislation during the veto session.
One of the bills the governor vetoed was HB 2067. This legislation narrowly passed the House by a 62-52 vote last spring and passed by the Senate with a 30-27 vote. It takes 60 votes for a simple majority in the House and 30 votes for a bill to pass the Senate.
Basically, the effect of the bill as passed was that juvenile sex offenders could avoid registering as adults for sex crimes committed as juveniles if a court agreed that they would not have to register. Without this legislation, a court did not have the authority to allow a juvenile offender not to register. Many believed this legislation would provide courts too much authority to decide whether or not a juvenile sex offender would be required to register as a sex offender when they reached the legal age of "adulthood." In fact, most legislators who voted in favor of this were concerned that there might be the perception that they could be seen as being a little soft on sex offenders.
The governor's veto message on this bill stated that he cannot condone any leniency towards sex offenders, whether the sex offender is a juvenile or an adult. The effect of this veto, if upheld, is that juvenile sex offenders must continue the current practice of registering when they reach adult age, even if they committed the crime prior to turning 17.
There are those who strongly believe that there should be a way to separate the acts of juveniles from their adulthood. But on this issue, since it deals with registration, and we know that most sex-crime offenders bear watching throughout their lifetime, I agree with the governor. I voted against the legislation in the spring and will continue to support a hard line when it comes to reporting requirements related to these types of crimes. After all, in many cases, registration is used to track sex offenders so that we can keep our children safe. When you stack the safety of children against this issue, it is an easy call for me. Since the vote was so close, it is unlikely that the sponsor will be able to find the necessary 71 votes in the House to override the governor.
Another bill vetoed by the governor was SB 2445. This legislation allows one specific restaurant near a school in Chicago to serve alcohol as long as the superintendent of the school does not object. The governor's veto on this bill is only "amendatory" in nature. It simply changes the bill to require that the principal, instead of the superintendent, be the person to deliver a written statement to the liquor commissioner stating that the principal does not object to the issuance of the license.
SB 2445 passed by a 62-50 House vote and a 33-11 Senate vote in the spring. These are slim margins. I voted "no." But the reason for my original vote was not related to whether or not it should be the superintendent or principal that would have the right to waive the existing law related to how close to a school alcohol could be served. I voted "no" because I think we should uphold the entire existing law. Plus, why should or would we pass a new law allowing the existing law to be waived just for one establishment in Chicago? Special legislation like this concerns me, it is usually a foot in the door for future expansion. I will continue to oppose this legislation and I hope that there is no way that enough votes are found to uphold the governor's misguided amendatory veto. He should have simply vetoed the entire bill based on the fact that it could start a very bad precedent.
Of the 11 vetoed bills that we will consider this fall, the two described in this article appear to be the most controversial. But we will face other issues as well. Next week, I will provide information about the possibility of a school-construction bonding bill, address the extension of the continuation of the utility rate freeze and discuss the governor's recent proposal to increase the state's minimum wage to $7.50 per hour. You can write me at: P.O. Box 125, Hutsonville, IL 62433 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more on my web site: www.peopleforeddy.com.