St. Louis Public Radio News
10:37 am
Fri July 11, 2003

Blagojevich Signs 50 Bills, Including Coal Incentives

Carterville, Ill. – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich yesterday signed more than fifty pieces of legislation into law.

One of them includes a package of incentives aimed at boosting the state's coal industry.

Companies wanting to build new or convert existing power plants in the state will be eligible for more than $300-million dollars in state-backed bonds if they promise to burn Illinois coal.

"Everyday, every American uses about 20 pounds of coal in the form of clean coal-based electricity," Blagojevich said. "So the market for Illinois coal clearly exists."

More than 70% of Illinois' high energy coal is sold to out-of-state utilities.

Other pieces of legislation include:
- A new ban on the sale of most mercury thermometers. The law takes effect immediately. It prohibits people from selling thermometers that use mercury and stops hospitals from giving them as gifts to new mothers.

It does not prohibit the sale of mercury thermometers that are to be used in health care facilities. Mercury can be poisonous and cause neurological damage or emotional problems such as sudden mood shifts.

- An addition of dozens of more crimes to the list of offenses that make someone ineligible to work at day care and other child care facilities.

- An increase in the minimum percent of income to be paid in certain child support cases.

- The creation of a new crime called Arson on a Place of Worship. The offense would be subject to mandatory jail time.

- Allowing new mothers to donate the blood from their umbilical cords; that blood could be used in stem cell research.

- A new checkoff on Illinois state tax forms to allow people to donate money for the construction of a World War II memorial which would be built at Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetary.

That's the cemetary where Abe Lincoln is buried and where memorials for those who fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars already stand.