From budget gridlock to traffic gridlock: Resumption of vehicle-emissions-testing requirements causes traffic jams
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is again mailing notices of vehicle-emissions-testing requirements to vehicle owners, and effective June 1, the Illinois secretary of state has resumed requiring certain drivers to pass emissions tests prior to renewing their license plates. Drivers scrambling to comply by the secretary of state’s June 1 effective date caused headline-making traffic jams throughout Chicago and its suburbs.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has resumed mailing notices of emissions-testing requirements to drivers subject to them, and as of June 1, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is again requiring the emissions tests prior to renewing license plates for those drivers. The Illinois EPA emissions testing company, Applus Technologies Inc., agreed to start sending the notices out itself starting in April, at no additional cost to the state.
Budget gridlock in Springfield caused the Illinois EPA to stop mailing notices of vehicle-emissions-testing requirements to vehicle owners in December 2015. Accordingly, in March, the Illinois secretary of state’s office temporarily halted its emissions-testing requirement for license-plate renewals.
As drivers scrambled to meet the June 1 compliance deadline, terrible traffic jams beset Chicago-area city and suburban motorists in the last days of May. A spokesperson for the Illinois EPA told NBC Chicago the blame for the last-minute emissions testing lay with the budget-gridlock-induced disruption and delay in emissions notices.
Nightmarish traffic jams are just the latest state-budget-induced hassle for vehicle owners. They come on the heels of White’s office’s announcement in September 2015 that it would stop mailing vehicle-registration renewal reminders to save $450,000 per month. As a result of the stoppage of license-plate renewal notices, the state received a $3.5 million windfall in fees for late license-plate renewals during the first four months of 2016. Over 100,000 more Illinoisans renewed their registration late during that time compared with the same period in 2015, according to the Associated Press.
Illinois is in its 12th month without a budget, and its unpaid bills total more than $7 billion.
The disruption of normal procedures for vehicle-emissions-test reminders and vehicle-registration reminders caused by the budget stalemate has subjected thousands of Illinoisans to unnecessary fines and fees as well as traffic jams. It’s time for Illinois lawmakers to pass a budget the state can afford.