The Illinois Senate has approved a bill that would increase most vehicle registration fees by $1 to help foot the cost for replacing Illinois State Police squad cars. It is expected to generate about $9.5 million.
The Senate voted 47-7 to advance the measure – SB450 – to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. House lawmakers approved it with changes during the summer on a 75-15 vote.
If signed into law, starting in 2010 the $78 annual cost of vehicle registrations for vehicles weighing up to 8,000 pounds would be raised $1 a year. The rate increase is intended to be deposited into a special state fund for new State Police vehicles.
Supporters said the squad cars have on average racked up more than 170,000 miles. Along with the high odometer reading, they said the vehicles are increasingly unsafe and unreliable.
Critics of the plan, primarily Republicans, don’t trust Blagojevich to spend the money on State Police vehicles. They point out that there are no provisions in the bill prohibiting the Democratic governor from diverting the funds for other uses.
Also included in the bill is a provision addressing police use of video and audio recording of traffic stops. In-car video cameras would be authorized for all squad cars. By June 2011, the devices would be required to have the capability to record activities outside squad cars for 10 hours.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor