Speed Limit, Sex Ed, And Sales Tax: Busy Day In Springfield

May 23, 2013

Credit illinois.gov

Legislation increasing the speed limit on interstate highways in Illinois is headed to the governor. It raises to 70 the maximum speed limit.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative Jerry Costello, from Smithton, says more accidents happen because of vehicles traveling at different speeds, not because of higher speeds.

"If cars are driving at 70 miles-an-hour on average, someone who's doing 60 has a higher propensity of being in an accident than someone who's doing 80. So actually the slower-moving traffic causes most of the accidents." -Rep. Jerry Costello

The Transportation Department opposes the increase. But a spokeswoman says Governor Pat Quinn will review the bill. 

Sex Education

Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate passed a sex education plan that would still have public schools stress abstinence but would also teach students about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

The legislation mandates that middle and high schools include information about birth control.

 "In fantasy land, we teach our kids abstinence - and they listen. But we know they don't necessarily follow that advice.  They are going to be confronted with the issue of sex before they're 21 years old, or 25, or whenever they decide to get married." Senator Linda Holmes, D-Aurora

  Republican David Luechtefeld objected to the legislation:

"I can't imagine me going to, when my kids grew up, saying to them - by the way, sex is wrong ... and to say to them, once you get that out of your mouth, but if you're going to do it, here's the way to do it that it's safer." -David Luechtefeld, R-Okawville

The House passed the measure last month and Governor Pat Quinn says he supports it. 

Concealed Carry

Illinois House legislation would ban guns in municipal parks and athletic areas. The bill would also ban firearms on public buses and trains. House Speaker Michael Madigan says the legislation will get a vote Friday.

"Amazon" Tax

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday over how Illinois taxes online sales. Under a law that took effect in 2011, if an Illinois website gets a commission from linking to a product on a site such as Amazon.com, Amazon would have to collect Illinois sales tax. Amazon responded by cutting ties with these "affiliate marketers" in Illinois, so it wouldn't have to collect the tax. A lower court found the law unconstitutional -- because Illinois can only force companies with a connection to the state to collect taxes. George Issacson represents the businesses challenging the law before the Illinois Supreme Court. He says the tax has backfired on Illinois government.

"My guess is they've lost revenue, because as Illinois companies have left the state in order for these Web affiliates not to be subject to the reach of the statute, what you lose is corporate income tax. What you lose is employee individual income tax. It seems to me a it's a good object lesson in why states should not be handling this on a piecemeal basis." - George Issacson

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue says taxes collected under the "Amazon" law are not tracked separately, so there's no way of saying whether Illinois has lost money. The case comes as Congress is considering legislation that would settle questions about how to tax online sales across the country. 

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey and Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.