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July 16, 1999

Ryan Approves Deal Between Commonwealth Edison And Municipalities, Upholds DUI Penalties, Expands ISAC Scholarship Program

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation allowing municipalities served by Commonwealth Edison to require the utility to inform local police and fire departments before it may imposes a "rolling blackout." A rolling blackout is a planned power outage most likely to occur during summer heatwaves when demand for air conditioning is high.

"This legislation is designed as a public safety tool," Ryan said. "Hospitals, schools, traffic signals and even water service could be tragically affected by a power shortage. Now, communities will be better prepared to deal with a planned power outage should it occur."

Senate Bill 206, requires ComEd to notify local officials when it is considering a rolling blackout. In turn, municipalities will identify for ComEd any safety-sensitive sites such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes and daycare centers. If a rolling blackout is imminent, ComEd will inform communities of which facilities are likely to be affected.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 206 include Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange; Terry Link, R-Vernon Hills; David Sullivan, R-Park Ridge, and Representatives Eileen Lyons, R-Western Springs; Anne Zickus, R-Palos Hills; Renee Kosel, R-New Lennox; William O'Connor, R-Riverside; and Timothy Schmitz, R-Batavia. The legislation is effective immediately.

Also today, Governor Ryan vetoed legislation that would end the statutory suspension of driving privileges for convicted drunk drivers regardless of whether the reinstatement fee has been paid. Currently, the suspension stays in effect until the reinstatement even if the statutory period of suspension has ended. If Senate Bill 794 were to become law, and a person whose suspension had ended but had yet to pay the fee drove a car, they could only be charged with driving without a valid license -- a petty offense. Currently, the same person would be charged with driving on a suspended license and face a more severe penalty because the Statutory Summary Suspension remains in effect until the required reinstatement fee is paid. Reinstatement fees range from $60 to $250.

"This bill would have the unfortunate effect of weakening Illinois' current DUI laws," Ryan said. "By ending a suspension without collecting the required fee, we would be taking away a major incentive for people to pay, and convicted drunk drivers would receive a lesser penalty should they choose to get behind the wheel before their driving privileges have been reinstated."

Also today, Ryan signed House Bill 80, which expands the Merit Recognition Scholarship Program administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). This bill changes the eligibility requirements for the Merit Recognition Scholarship Program to allow high school seniors to qualify either on the basis of their class rank or their college placement test score. Prior to this change, most students could qualify only on the basis of class rank.

"This legislation expands ISAC's successful merit scholarship program," Ryan said. "Now, more students will be able to turn their hard work and academic accomplishments into money for college."

Other provisions of the bill will allow ISAC to determine scholarship recipients earlier, and allow awards to be used at any eligible public or private Illinois higher education institution or at one of the nation's four Service Academies.

ISAC's Merit Recognition Scholarship Program awards $1,000 scholarships to qualified students without regard to financial need. These revisions to the program will enable ISAC to administer awards to an estimated 7,000 eligible high school seniors annually beginning in Fiscal Year 2001. During Fiscal Year 2000, approximately 4,700 students will receive the Illinois Merit Scholarship.

House Bill 80, which takes effect July 1, 2000, was sponsored by Representatives William O'Connor, R-Riverside; Judy Myers, R-Danville; Judy Erwin, D-Chicago; Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale; and Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling, and Senators John Maitland, R-Bloomington and Tom Walsh, R-LaGrange Park.

A list of other bill action is attached.


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