June 1, 2016

Springfield (June 1)—Proving that the legislative process can move quickly when it wants to, SMART-TD’s initiative to increase minimum insurance requirements for contract carrier vehicles swept through both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly over the last 6 days of the legislative session.

The Bill, Senate Bill 2882, was nearly identical to SMART-TD’s House Bill 439 last year, which after passing the Illinois General Assembly nearly unanimously was Amendatory Vetoed by Governor Rauner.

The original Bill, HB 439, called for an increase in the minimum amount of Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverage that a contract carrier vehicle must carry per passenger, that increase was to double from $250,000 to $500,000 with another automatic increase in 2020 to $750,000. The Governor, in his AV, struck the automatic increase in 2020, but left alone the initial increase.

“The Governor’s AV meant that we had to start over this year,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “But we knew we had a good Bill, we just needed the right vehicle and the right time to move it, it just happened to occur over the last week of scheduled session.”

“Our original sponsor, State Representative Jay Hoffman, identified a Senate Bill that was sitting in the House that could be amended,” Guy said. “That Bill was SB 2882.”

“Jay had SB 2882 amended to reflect the Governor’s AV language, which still provided for the doubling of coverage to $500,000 beginning next year,” Guy said. “It also specifically mentions railroad employees as included as part of the financial responsibility for contract carrier vehicles.”

Rep. Hoffman passed the amended SB 2882 out of a House Committee on Wednesday May 25th, then passed it out of the full House on Friday May 27th by a 106-1 vote, which allowed it to go back immediately to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

“So on Memorial Day, with one day left in Session, I met with State Senator Melinda Bush,” Guy said. “It was her Bill that Jay amended in the House so I needed to make sure she was fine with us using it to move our language in the Senate.”

“Sen. Bush was great in obliging us and was very helpful in getting the Bill kicked right to the Senate Floor,” Guy said. “In doing so, the Bill was in position and ready to be called for a vote on the last day of session yesterday and it passed unanimously 59-0.”

“That’s six days from adopting the amendment in the House to full passage in the Senate,” Guy said. “You just can’t do that unless you have good legislation and the knowledge of the legislative process and how it can work.”

“I want to thank both Jay and Melinda for their last minute work on behalf of our members,” Guy said. “With all of the other issues facing them this session they took the time to work and pass legislation that will help protect railroad workers, for that we’re grateful.”

SB 2882 will now go to the Governor. Considering that the legislation represents the Governor’s Amendatory Veto of HB 439 there shouldn’t be any problems with him signing the Bill into law. The Bill, once it becomes law, would go into effect on January 1, 2017.