Senate Week in Review: November 24 - 28, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

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Slow it down this Thanksgiving

Transportation officials are urging motorists to play it safe this holiday week. With 8.3 million drivers traveling in suburban Illinois alone, safety is a top priority. In 2013, 723 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in Illinois—there were seven fatalities.

Illinois State Police throughout the state will be targeting drunken drivers, speedsters and distracted drivers—so no texting or talking while behind the wheel. And, as always, buckle up. Motorists looking for information on winter road conditions can find updates at the Illinois Department of Transportation, and Illinois State Police have provided a comprehensive list of travel safety tips on their website.

Rauner Transition Team hitting the ground running

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner’s Transition Team has hit the ground running. After a recent meeting with members of the team, the head of the Illinois Board of Higher Education asked state university presidents to prepare budgets showing five to ten percent cuts this fiscal year and 20 percent next year. The budget requests could reflect the reduced funding available when the temporary income tax increase drops as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2015.  

Governor-elect Rauner and Republicans in the General Assembly loudly rejected the call to increase taxes during a “lame duck” legislative session. Rauner takes office Jan. 12, six months into the fiscal year budget crafted by outgoing Governor Pat Quinn and his Democrat majorities in the House and Senate. It’s expected the Rauner Transition Team will be reviewing the budgets in all areas of state government in preparation for taking office.

Red-light cameras 

Chicago drivers hopeful the Illinois Supreme Court would uphold a legal challenge to red-light cameras in the Windy City will be disappointed to learn that in an unusual one-page finding the state’s high court was unable to deliver a ruling on the issue. After two judges recused themselves, and the rest of the seven-member court declared itself divided, the state’s high court dismissed the appeal meaning a lower court ruling permitting red-light camera stands.

Red-light cameras are a source of controversy across the nation, and Chicago has one of the country's most extensive red-light camera programs. While proponents say they improve safety on city streets, critics question the accuracy and effectiveness of the cameras—and suggest they are better at generating revenues for cash-strapped cities than promoting safer driving.

Fracking regs receive legal boost

As the state continues to travel down the long road to fracking, the industry received a boost from a Madison County judge on Nov. 21, who ruled against a lawsuit introduced by some southern Illinois landowners seeking to slow down the implementation process of the state’s fracking regulations.

Fracking, which is shorthand for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, is a process that injects water, sand, and chemicals into oil wells to help release additional oil deposits for extraction. Supporters say fracking could lead to a new energy boom in Illinois, and lead to massive economic growth for the entire state. However, opponents argue that the process isn’t well understood and could lead to significant environmental problems.