ELECTION 2014: Know your Illinois governor

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/5/2014

Voters this fall in Illinois will have ballots filled with candidates vying for offices that stretch from Washington, D.C., to around the block.

One of the offices on Illinois’ ballot is for the governor’s seat. Gov. Pat Quinn is on the ballot for the second time. He initially assumed the office in 2009 when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached. A year later, Quinn was elected to a full term. He is now seeking a second term at the helm.

It is no small task for Illinois voters to keep up with even the most notable actions taken by Quinn during his time in office. While many professional drivers can recall precisely the actions relative to trucking that have been taken, others welcome a reminder.

With that in mind, below are some actions relevant to trucking that the Democratic governor has taken during his five years on the job.

Shortly after Quinn assumed his current position, he grabbed the attention of truckers when he eliminated split speed limits on rural interstates. While maintaining the status quo of speed differentials in the “collar counties” surrounding Chicago, he did listen to lawmakers and truckers who had spent years pushing for uniform speeds elsewhere.

In 2011, he put his signature on a bill to authorize uniform speeds on U.S. and state highways outside of Chicago and the surrounding area. And one year ago he signed off on a speed increase from 65 mph to 70 mph for all vehicles on rural four-lane highways and most portions of the Illinois Tollway.

“This limited 5-mph increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America,” Quinn said in prepared remarks at the time.

On the topic of vehicle speeds, Quinn signed a bill into law this summer to prevent law enforcement officers around the state from going on ticket-writing sprees. Specifically, departments are prohibited from evaluating personnel based on the number of tickets written or arrests made.

The governor has also changed rules related to truck idling. In 2009, he boosted the fines for idling violations from $50 to $90. Violations for repeat offenders went from a $150 shot in the arm to a $500 gut punch.

Two years later he signed into law a new rule to increase the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Commercial vehicles equipped with auxiliary power units were authorized in state law to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Another bill signed into law in 2011 requires local governments to provide up-to-date truck route data. All city, county and township governments must submit their local truck routes to the state Department of Transportation.

Quinn referred to the change as “another important step” his administration has taken to improve the state’s business climate.

The same year he signed a bill into law allowing IDOT, under certain circumstances, to issue permits for loads that exceed size and weight restrictions for short trips. The change applies to divisible loads such as sand, gravel, logs and fuel that previously had to be broken down into separate shipments to meet truck weight limits.

The governor called it a common-sense law that cuts transportation costs for companies throughout Illinois.

Quinn has also authorized the state to tap private companies to get new roads built.

In 2010, he signed legislation permitting the state to partner with private groups to develop, build and manage the Illiana Expressway.

A year later he opened the door to allowing the state to form partnerships with private groups to get more road work done. It includes some state oversight of any lease deals. For example, state lawmakers are required to approve all potential public-private partnerships.

Also, the state is prohibited from partnering to expand existing roads.

And last month he signed a $1.1 billion capital construction bill that authorizes selling bonds to pay for road and bridge work throughout the state. A total of 210 projects are identified as benefiting from the deal.

“We are the heart of the heartland,” Quinn stated. “It’s important to the whole country that we make investments into improving our roads and bridges and relieving congestion all across this state.”

To view more information on Gov. Quinn’s actions on transportation issues, visit votesmart.org.

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