The Illinois Senate approved legislation yesterday that would provide
school buses with cameras to photograph the license plates of drivers
who fail to stop while a bus is picking up or dropping off children.
Sponsored by State Sen. Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago), the bill, SB 0923, passed by a 36-12 vote, with two legislators voting “present.” The legislation is now headed to the Illinois House.
is a safety mechanism,” Munoz said on the chamber floor, in defense of
the legislation. “This would hopefully be a deterrent for someone going
around the school bus.”
Violators who fail to stop for a bus while
the “stop” arm is extended would face a fine of $150 for the first offense,
and $500 for every violation that follows, if the legislation passes. The current punishment for offenders caught by police officers is a moving violation.
Under the proposal, school districts get the opportunity to partner with cities and counties to install the cameras.
a heated debate ensued between Munoz and State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake
Barrington), a repeated opponent of red-light cameras, when Duffy
referenced a federal bribery investigation of Redflex Traffic Systems, a
supplier of red-light cameras in Chicago.
“It’s the same camera
company and the same camera lobbyists associated with Gov. Blagojevich
and other scandals who’s promoting this bill,” said Duffy, despite the
fact that neither Redflex Traffic Systems, nor its rival, RedSpeed
Illinois, testified on behalf of Munoz’s legislation.
legislation was pushed by lobbyist Al Ronan, a former fundraiser for
impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich and representative of Park Forest-Chicago
Heights School District 163. Ronan also represents RedSpeed Illinois.
Duffy’s critique drew an angry response from Munoz, who was quick to
reference a red light-camera video that was previously used by Senate
President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) in defense of red-light camera
The video shows Duffy making an illegal turn in Schaumburg.
like to go around cameras,” Munoz said to Duffy. “You drive right
through them, you in your fancy car, your fancy suit. You want to bring
it up? I can do it too.”
Duffy ultimately voted against the bill. Munoz later apologized to the chamber for his comments.