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Rahm Emanuel And Jesse White Back New Handicapped Parking Legislation

By Soyoung Kwak in News on Mar 11, 2012 5:45PM

Image Credit: Paul Saini
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Secretary of State Jesse White are both backing a legislation aimed at preventing vehicles that hold disabled parking placards and license plates in Illinois from cheating the metered parking system. Last year, both White and Emanuel were looking into ways to improve the metered parking program for those who hold disabled parking placards and licenses while cracking down on those who abuse the program by alternative methods, such as imposing heavier fines. This was a big deal last year, as the truth came to surface that the metered parking system for disabled parking was a significant financial burden for the state, costing $13.5 million annually.

To remedy the situation, Illinois state Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) is drawing inspiration from an existing disabled parking law in Michigan, where there is a "two-tiered" parking system for those who hold disability placards or licenses. The new legislation calls for the following changes:

Starting in 2014, only wheelchair-bound people and others who are physically unable to feed meters would be allowed to park in metered spots without having to feed meters or parking payboxes, according to the legislation. They'd be sent a new set of placards that would display their right to free metered parking in Chicago and other Illinois communities after the secretary of state's office reviewed paperwork signed by their doctors.

Regular disabled-parking placard and plate holders would continue to be allowed to park in handicapped-only spots in parking lots and garages but would not have free-parking benefits in metered zones.

This legislation passed the Illinois House unanimously and is gaining support from various groups, including disability-rights advocates. Considering this is a serious problem and our state is persistently cash-strapped, the new legislation doesn't sound like a terribly bad idea.