1/25/2007 3:08:00 PM Guest column Spring session brings lots of new initiatives
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For the Daily News
When members of the House of Representatives return to Springfield on Feb. 6, hundreds of bills will already have been filed for consideration. Committees will begin to hear testimony on these proposals and important legislative deadlines will start to occur. I count on constituents to contact me with their feelings about proposals. A good way to keep up with what is happening is to make regular visits to the General Assembly Web site (www.ilga.gov). This site has a search engine that will allow you to track legislation by bill number or subject matter. Be a frequent visitor and get involved!
This week, I want to pass along some information to you on some of the measures that I am sponsoring this year. Here is a brief listing; please let me know if you have comments or concerns regarding any of these proposals.
I want to continue to promote the alternative-fuel industry in Illinois. When I took office, I made it clear that I would work very hard to support efforts related to ethanol and biodiesel. Here in Illinois, we have agricultural resources and potential can help reduce our nation's dependency on foreign fuel while boosting our local economies. I will continue to strongly support and sponsor legislation that creates tax credits for people investing in the alternative-fuel industry and for those who purchase alternative-fuel vehicles.
We do not have enough E-85 pump locations in Illinois. While the production of ethanol and the number of new plants coming online in the next few years is promising, we need to do more to make sure that E-85 is available. I plan to introduce legislation requiring E-85 pumps at fueling stations. This can be achieved through issuance of tax credits and other means.
I will reintroduce a bill that prohibits sex offenders from voting on school grounds on election days. These citizens would be allowed to vote by absentee ballot or at a different location away from school children. The measure would also prohibit sex offenders from being with a certain distance of designated school bus stops. This is HB 263.
Another bill that I have introduced (HB 262) would require random drug testing for teenagers before they receive their learner's permit for driver's education.
I will support limiting the sale and availability of ammonium nitrate to the general public. Although there are many positive uses for this, it is also the substance used as a key ingredient to make bombs. I am proposing that when a purchase is made that there are some restrictions or identification requirements at the time of purchase.
I am also considering legislation that would decrease the legal limit for those convicted of a DUI by requiring that a first conviction would drop the legal rate for that person from .08 to .06. Several states have passed this type of limitation language which results in a zero tolerance for multiple offenders. Another bill along these lines would require anyone suspected by probable cause of driving under the influence of a controlled substance to be required to submit to a saliva test, which would immediately prove use of a controlled substance.
How about a law that would require all ballots to include a listing for "None of the Above" in state elections? If the voters are so disillusioned at their choices or the two candidates want to be overly nasty in campaigning, "None of the Above" could win. This could be simply an advisory ballot, or if "None of the Above" wins, there could be a runoff election in which the original candidates would not be eligible. Some states have gone to this and the result seems to be less negative campaigning. Something needs to be done. Some of the ads in the last campaign season were intolerable. The people deserve better, and perhaps neither candidate should win if they cannot stop themselves from participating in negative campaigning.
I have several school-funding reforms that I will either introduce or support as a co-sponsor. We must reimburse school districts additional dollars for the cost of delivering special-education services to students. This federal mandate, passed through by the state, is causing school district budgets to be ravaged. We also need legislation to require the state to provide school districts the state aid that they are promised during a budget year. Schools are required to prepare a budget based upon state payments and then the payments often do not come in that budget year. Many times, schools end up on financial watch or warning lists just because the state has not provided the funding that was promised. Finally, we should address the disparity between the amount spent on students in wealthy districts compared to poor districts while finding a way to reduce the reliance on local property taxes.
I also will introduce legislation aimed at ending predatory pricing in the gasoline industry. This unfair marketing practice is destroying competition and harming an emerging alternative fuel industry.
These are some examples of legislation that I will soon introduce for the spring session. I am sure there will be more. I am interested in your thoughts. As the session gets rolling, I will update you on these measures plus many more. I appreciate the comments I received regarding the proposed state-wide indoor smoking ban. Most people that contacted me do not feel like the state should interfere locally by imposing a state-wide ban.
Thanks to those who have visited www.showus.org and read the important information regarding the Democracy Project on that site. Dozens of people have signed up and are ready to help make our state government more accountable. Take the time to take a look; it is worth the read!
If you have thoughts to share with me regarding any issue, contact me at either P.O. Box 125, Hutsonville, IL 62433 or 234-N, Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706. or you can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also keep you updated on my Web site: www.peopleforeddy.com.