Illinois lawmakers plan to override governor's veto of split speed ban

| 10/19/2004

Supporters of the effort to end Illinois’ split speed limit plan to attempt to override the governor’s veto, a Senate staff member told Land Line.

The Senate staff member said that Sen. George Shadid, D-Pekin, the primary sponsor of the measure, SB2374, would call the bill during the first week of the veto session, Nov. 8, 9 and 10. The vote will likely occur in the Senate on Nov. 9 or 10.

The bill’s chances look good. Both the Senate and House votes on it this year were more than the two-thirds necessary to override Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto, which drew an immediate reaction from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“It’s unfortunate and irresponsible for the governor to have taken this action,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said after the veto. “Obviously he’s getting bad information that will play itself out on Illinois’ highways in the lives and injuries of motorists. We certainly hope the Legislature moves swiftly to override his ill-advised veto.”

And it looks like that’s exactly what is about to happen.

Sen. John Sullivan, D-Quincy, a co-sponsor of the measure told Land Line earlier this year that the bill’s chances are “pretty good.”

“I think that there were some concerns last year, basically safety types of concerns, that were part of the discussion when it was brought up for the override” he said. “Then there was some more information, some more research that came out during the discussion this year, when we reintroduced it.

“I think that most of those fears have been taken of,” he said. “I would have to say I feel pretty confident that this time, that we would be able to override the veto.”

Sullivan gave much of the credit to Shadid, a powerful figure in Illinois and a supporter of eliminating split speeds.

“He’s worked on the bill last year and again this year, and he’s had really a lot of bipartisan support,” he said.

OOIDA and other trucking industry officials also fought for passage the bill, citing federal statistics showing that split speed limits lead to more accidents.

However, opposition forces, including the AAA Chicago Motor Club and the Illinois State Police, lined up to speak against the measure.

SB2374 cleared the Senate by a vote of 37-15 on March 4. It gained approval in the House with a vote of 81-37 on May 18. It would eliminate provisions in Illinois law that set up a slower, 55 mph speed limit for any vehicle over 8,000 pounds traveling on rural interstates. Other vehicles on those roads can travel 65 mph; all speed limits would remain 55 mph in urban areas.

The governor’s veto message, issued Aug. 18, included a terse statement.

“Last year, the General Assembly presented the same legislation for my review,” the governor wrote. “I studied the issues involved and for safety reasons, I vetoed that bill. I am unaware of any change in the safety issues I considered last year. I remain opposed to increasing the speed limit to 65 miles per hour for these large trucks.”

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor