• Joel Ebert
    AUG 13, 2021


    Pritzker signs measures into law to help first responders

    Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday signed into law three bills that seek to help the state’s first responders.

    Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday signed into law three bills that seek to help the state’s first responders.  

    The governor signed: 

    • SB 1575, which directs the Illinois Department of Human Services to create an online database of mental health resources for first responders; 
    • SB 1913, which allows judges to issue community service and other penalties for violators of a law that requires drivers to slow down and change lanes when there is a first responder stopped on the side of the road; and  
    • HB 3656, which clarifies how drivers should respond to an emergency on the road and establishes the Move Over Early Warning Task Force. 

    Speaking at a relatively somber news conference inside the Capitol while flanked by members of the Illinois State Police, Pritzker said the state had a “profound responsibility” to provide first responders with the protection and resources they need to do their jobs safely.  

    Acknowledging the recent killing of Chicago police officer Ella French, who Pritzker said was “brutally murdered,” the governor said the trio of measures he was signing Thursday would make the lives of first responders safer.  

    To highlight the need for SB 1913, Pritzker turned to Lauren Frank, the wife of Illinois State Trooper Brian Frank who was struck by a vehicle in February when he was responding to a crash. Lauren Frank said her husband is in a “minimally conscious state.” She said the horrific accident was entirely preventable because of the state’s law, known as Scott’s Law, that requires drivers who are approaching a vehicle with their hazard lights on to slow down and move over.  

    The governor’s office noted in a news release Thursday that state troopers reported more than 1,300 violations of Scott’s Law during a 19-day period in late February and early March. Frank said 17 troopers have been hit this year alone.  

    Pritzker noted Frank’s story and said the accidents involving state troopers should be a “wake-up call” for Illinoisans. “Your distracted driving could be someone else’s worst nightmare and no text or other distraction is worth that,” he said.  

    Illinois State Police director Brendan Kelly said additional education and enforcement were needed in order to ensure the move over law was being followed.  

    Throughout Thursday’s news conference, several officials noted the death of French, including Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago), who said it was “unfortunate” the state was going through “rough times.” 

    “Men and women who put on the badge and take the oath...it’s a shame that people are preying on them, shooting them and they don’t care,” said Munoz, who sponsored HB 3656.  

    Munoz’ legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Fran Hurley (D-Chicago) calls for the task force to study how to use 21st century technology to help drivers navigate through emergency areas. The task force’s findings are due by 2023.  

    SB 1575, sponsored by Sen. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) and Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago), will compile mental health resources, including crisis services, suicide prevention and anxiety, for first responders in one place online. Martwick said Thursday the law is one measure to try to help with the myriad issues facing first responders today.  

    SB 1575 became effective upon the governor’s signature while SB 1913 and HB 3656 take effect Jan. 1. 


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