Rauner signs bill that requires teaching teens how to handle being stopped by police

Students enrolled in driver’s education courses will be required to learn how to respond if they’re pulled over by police under a measure Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Friday.

The change is aimed at preventing teens from panicking or doing anything that may be interpreted as a red flag by police, which could lead to a standard traffic stop escalating into a more serious situation.

“I think it’s really timely, so that teenagers and young drivers don’t look at a police officer as a threat or a problem,” said sponsoring Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield. “It’s just a part of driving, and if they respond in a responsible, correct way, it should never escalate.”

The new curriculum will be put in place for the 2017-18 school year at private and public schools that offer driver’s education classes, or after June 30, 2017, for driver training schools providing instruction to teens younger than 18. It’ll be up to the secretary of state’s office to develop the specific guidelines.

The measure was one of dozens of bills Rauner acted on while on vacation with family in Montana.

Another bill approved by Rauner would allow police to carry epinephrine auto-injectors to help those having severe allergic reactions. The measure is named after Annie LeGere, a 13-year-old from Elmhurst who died after having a severe allergic reaction at a sleepover.

The girl’s mother, Shelly LeGere, made it her mission to equip first responders, saying the outcome for her daughter could have been different if the police officer who first came to the scene was allowed to carry the injectors.

Other new laws would create a special license plate that would raise funds to develop habitat areas for the monarch butterfly, which has had its numbers dwindle in recent years; and allow grocery stores to consolidate cartons of eggs. Previously, if one egg in a dozen was cracked, the whole carton had to be thrown out.

Rauner vetoed legislation that would have eased residency requirements for students seeking to run for student trustee at the University of Illinois. Current law requires students prove residence in Illinois for at least six months, have a valid driver’s license and be registered to vote in Illinois.

The legislation rejected by Rauner would have changed requirements so students would have to meet only one of those factors to be eligible to run. The proposed change was inspired by a student who wanted to run but could not prove he was registered to vote in Illinois. But Rauner said the proposal “goes too far in eroding the residency requirement.”

“The University of Illinois is a public institution supported by Illinois taxpayers, and therefore in-state student representation on its Board of Trustees should be a priority,” Rauner said in his veto message. “Student trustees have the authority to influence decisions with lasting effects on the University and Illinois taxpayers, so it is therefore important to ensure that student trustees are residents of Illinois.”

Sponsoring Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, said she was disappointed by Rauner’s veto.

“College is about helping students grow inside and outside of the classroom, and it should not be difficult for a student to be allowed to run for a leadership position at their university,” Martinez said in a statement. “The governor had a chance to open up opportunities to students, but he unfortunately chose not to do so.”

The governor also used his veto pen on a proposal aimed at helping the bottom line for Cook County when it uses private debt collectors to collect delinquent taxes and fees, such as tobacco taxes that went unpaid, or funds from a bad check.

As it stands, debt collectors charge the county fees on that debt, which is passed on to taxpayers. The proposal was aimed at allowing the county to ensure the scofflaw pays that fee, not the county.

Rauner said he could not sign the bill because it would add further burden to homeowners struggling with high property taxes. But supporters said the legislation was not intended to apply to the collection of property taxes. A spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who backed the bill, said officials will study Rauner’s veto message before determining any next steps.

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