A look at legislative action

A look at legislative action

Here's a look at legislative action in Springfield this week:

— Legislation (HB 3914) that would double the fines for motorists who overtake and drive around a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended was approved unanimously Wednesday by the House Transportation Committee.

The fine for a first offense (now $150) would increase to $300 and a second violation (now $500) would increase to $1,000.

— A bill (SB 1884) that would require facilities that do research on cats and dogs to have an adoption policy for animals once a veterianarian determines that they are adoptable was approved unanimously by the Senate Higher Education Committee.

— A measure (SB 598) that would change the residency requirements for a University of Illinois student trustee was approved by the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a nearly identical legislation last August.

"This bill passed both the House and the Senate last year. The governor vetoed it," said sponsor Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago. "Hopefully this is the modification he will approve and he will be able to sign this bill into law."

But the legislation still would require only that a student trustee provide evidence of having resided in Illinois for six months either with a drivers license, state identification card or proof of voter registration.

Rauner vetoed similar legislation last year because it "would allow a student to demonstrate residency by satisfying only one of these criteria — for example, just living on campus for six months before the election. Therefore, in effect, a nonresident could serve on the board."

At that time Rauner wrote, "Student trustees have the authority to influence decisions with lasting effects on the University and Illinois taxpayers, so it is therefore important to ensure that student trustees are residents of Illinois."

Martinez's bill is supported by the UI.

— Legislation that would allow the State Board of Education to establish rules on the duration that a school district is required to provide transportation for a homeless child was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

SB 1482, sponsored by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, was sent to the Senate floor although Rose said its terms are still being negotiated.

"My goal is to make the law reflect some common sense," said Rose. "I'm trying to get the state law to reflect the principle of what's in the best interest of the individual kid. To me, it's an important facor of how long are you placing this child on a bus and how many other school districts are you driving past to accomplish this objective?"

Last year, he said, a family enrolled a child in the Paris school district, then relocated to Mattoon.

"They were sending a bus to Mattoon every day to get this kid and pick him up," said Rose. "This is ridiculous, and people wonder why there's no money for local schools."

The bus ride was more than an hour each way, said Rose.

After hearing of the problem, Rose said he checked with the state board and was told that is the rule governing transportation of children considered homeless.

"That's because in Chicago kids who go homeless want to stay in the school they originally were in," he said. "That's fine in Chicago, but then you hit the geographical reality that one size does not fit all."

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