There oughta be a law ... ? Just say no to these 3 bills
There are times we think Illinois legislators would be better off staying in their home districts rather than trying to come up with new laws while they’re in Springfield. This session is shaping up as one of those times.
We’ve already complained about the idea of a soda tax - whose sponsor vows to keep fighting for it even if it takes five years - but that’s not the only piece of objectionable legislation.
The worst bill is an attempt to exempt 911 calls from the disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. Ever since the FOIA was taken “out of the Stone Age” in 2009, it seems, the General Assembly has been looking for ways to weaken it - and has succeeded by carving out exemptions.
The 911 exemption is being pushed by Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, who said the 911 recordings from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 inspired him to sponsor the bill. He hasn’t picked up any co-sponsors yet, so Senate Bill 3072 may not advance.
There have been very few times that Rockford Register Star reporters have asked for 911 tapes. When we do, it’s because we think the public has a right to know about the events that are described during one of those calls.
Then there’s Rep. Mike Boland, D-Moline, who wants to prohibit smoking in cars when children are passengers. Don’t get us wrong. We think smoking is a vile, disgusting, unhealthy habit, but it is legal - for now.
Smokers have few places to go. They’ve been kicked out of public buildings, made to shiver at least 15 feet away from the doors to puff away.
The dangers of secondhand smoke are real, and any smoker who doesn’t realize it and puts a child at risk probably has bigger issues that should be dealt with.
We’ve supported smoking bans, but this one goes too far. Might as well sentence an offender to a parenting program rather than fine him or her $1,500 and up to a month in jail. A month in jail for a parent punishes the child as much as the parent.
Boland, who initially proposed this legislation in 2007, said judges probably would let most offenders off with a warning, but that’s not as benign as it sounds. Imagine having to take a day off work - and a day’s lost wages - to appear in court.
Let’s hope House Bill 1769 dies, as the previous versions did.
To complete the trifecta, we have a measure to have cold and allergy medicines that include ephedrine and pseudoephedrine become available by prescription only.
Oregon and Mississippi have passed similar laws, claiming that they have helped reduce the number of meth labs.
Those ingredients are used to make methamphetamine, an addictive, dangerous drug. Since 2006, cold and allergy medicine with those elements have been removed from store shelves and placed behind pharmacy counters. That has helped reduce meth production.
Meth addiction is a problem, but the solution should not make it more difficult for a person with a runny nose to find relief.
The measure, SB3502, is sponsored by Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria.
Here’s a suggestion. For every law senators and representatives pass, one is repealed. That’ll keep ‘em busy.
— GateHouse Media Illinois