November 4, 2003

SPRINGFIELD (Nov. 4)—The Illinois House of Representatives voted unanimously today to approve new language added by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to legislation intended to regulate out-of-state crew vans when they operate in Illinois.

As reported earlier in “Hot Topics,” Gov. Blagojevich signed House Bill 313 August 26 with an amendatory veto after lawyers on his staff advised him that some of the language in the legislation might conflict with federal law.

The bill required all contract vans that carry railroad crews in Illinois to pass periodic mechanical inspections and to use only trained drivers working under hours-of-service restrictions.

A potential conflict with federal law arose, however, when the bill attempted to impose the same regulations on vans registered in states outside Illinois. Normally, only the federal government can regulate interstate transportation.

However, the governor’s legal staff devised new language which conforms to federal law. It allows the state to subject the 15-passenger crew vans to Illinois safety regulations if the state in which the van is registered lacks such regulations. The governor resubmitted the bill with revised language in place, and House Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) arranged for a prompt floor vote.

“We at the UTU very much appreciate the governor’s quick response to this problem, and we certainly appreciate the skillful and professional way in which his legal staff devised a solution,” said Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo.

Szabo said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman George Shadid (D-Pekin) expects the bill to be voted on in the Upper Chamber November 14.

“Chances for passage in the Senate look very good also,” Szabo said, adding:

“Once the bill becomes law, it will be an important tool our members can use in their campaign for safe transportation between their layover accommodations and their work assignments in Illinois.

“These employees have reported numerous vehicles and drivers out of compliance with the state’s safety code,” Szabo said. “Once the Contract Carrier Safety Act begins covering vans registered outside the state, our members will have a means to bring all such violations to stop.”