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July 3, 2011

Governor Quinn Signs Bills to Increase Protections for Veterans and Servicemembers
Bills Prevent Winter Heat Shutoff, Increase Driver’s License Renewal Period; Help Injured Veterans Access Needed Services

CHICAGO – July 3, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed three bills to provide more protections for Illinois’ servicemembers and help injured Veterans get the services they need. Together, the bills will make Illinois a more supportive place to live for servicemembers and veterans.

“On the day before we celebrate our democracy, we want to remember and protect our heroic men and women who answered the call to service,” said Governor Quinn. “When our Veterans and servicemembers return to their homes in Illinois, it is our duty to give them the thanks and respect they deserve.”

These bills prevent Illinois utilities from cutting off heat to Veterans and servicemembers during the winter months; extend the driver’s license renewal time for servicemembers returning from overseas or out-of state; and create a fund to support public service announcements to increase awareness of Veterans’ programs.

Sponsored by Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin) and Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin), House Bill 1260 prohibits utilities from cutting off heat to Veterans and Servicemembers during the winter months. Under the new law, gas and electric utility companies are prevented from cutting off gas or electricity to Veterans and servicemember’s homes from Dec. 1 through March 31 of the following year.

Many of Illinois’ men and women in uniform who serve out-of-state or overseas find it difficult to renew their driver’s license within the time required under current law. Sponsored by Rep. Eddie Jackson (D-East St. Louis) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), House Bill 3331 extends the expiration of a servicemember's driver’s license to 120 days upon their return to Illinois. Current law only allows for a 90 day deferral.

House Bill 3275 creates a fund to support public service announcements to inform Illinois’ Veterans and servicemembers of the benefits and services available for treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The fund will be administered by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which will collect private gifts, donations and charitable contributions to support the fund. The new law was sponsored by Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

“As a veteran of the Illinois Army National Guard, there are few things more important than helping our men and women in uniform,” said Rep. Barickman, who sponsored HB 3275. “I’m proud of this law, which allows people to donate private dollars to promote services available to men and women injured in combat.” The three new laws take effect Jan. 1, 2012.


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