Illinois considers bill to authorize hazmat checks in state

| 3/21/2005

Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill that would bring the state into compliance with the USA Patriot Act’s provisions on hazmat drivers.

The bill, SB1825, would set up the state to conduct its portion of the fingerprint-based background checks now required of hazmat drivers, a process being led by the federal Transportation Security Administration.

Introduced by Sen. Terry Link, D-Lake Bluff, the bill is on an apparent fast track: It was introduced in late February, has already unanimously passed the Senate Transportation Committee, and is awaiting a final vote in the upper chamber.

However, Illinois officials are not waiting for the bill to pass to gather fingerprints and other information for the security threat assessments. Dave Druker – press secretary for Secretary of State Jesse White – said the state started taking information from new applicants for hazmat endorsements Jan. 31, the same date that process started in the rest of the country. The checks will begin for renewal and transfer hazmat applicants May 31.

The Secretary of State’s Office requested the bill.

Druker said his department is recommending that truckers not wait till their renewal date to begin the process.

“The one thing we do recommend, you know, is that the drivers do give some advance notice and not wait till the expiration date to come in, because it will take a couple of weeks” to complete the checks, he said. Druker’s department is expecting waits of three weeks to a month between the time the fingerprints are taken and the results of the background checks come back.

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor