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Bid to name toll scofflaws on Internet stumbles in House

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CORRECTION_ILLINOIS_LEGISLATURE_19334237.JPGRep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), pictured in this 2011 file photo, failed Friday to pass legislation that would permit the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to publish the names of tollway scofflaws owing $1,000 or more on the Internet. The bill stalled after state Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) said she misvoted. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)


SPRINGFIELD-A plan to shame the worst-of-the-worst tollway scofflaws by publishing their names on the Internet failed Friday in the Illinois House but may live to see another day.

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) is the lead House sponsor of legislation that would permit the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to publish the names on the Internet of anyone owing more than $1,000 in tollway fines.

"This is just an additional tool to embarrass people so maybe they'll pay what they owe," Lang said.

But his legislation went down Friday on a 59-53 roll call after a colleague, state Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison), said she "accidentally" misvoted and thus deprived the measure of the 60th vote it needed to pass. But Lang kept it alive for a later vote.

During floor debate, Lang said the tollway is owed about $300 million and cited three examples of businesses that owed $19,000 or more. In one instance, without naming names, Lang spoke of a Streamwood company that had a staggering $152,000 in unpaid tolls and penalties.

"The fact is the tollway has a lot money due and owing to it," he said. "The thought is if they'd post these names, people would want to pay up pretty darn quickly to get their names off the Internet."

Lang said the tollway would not put a person's or business' name on the Internet unless they had failed to pay up after having gotten nine separate notices from the toll highway authority.

But opponents argued the legislation, Senate Bill 1214, gave motorists no ability to contest the tollway in court, particularly in instances where someone else is driving a motorist's vehicle and not paying.

"I have no doubt this is well-intended, but I think we're going down a bad path shaming people," said Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove).

Lang thought he had 60 votes to pass the bill. After learning he didn't, Willis acknowledged she'd pressed the wrong button on her voting console and asked to be recorded as a supporter. Her move didn't negate the need for a new vote later this month.

In mid-April, the Senate passed the legislation by a 35-9 vote. State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) was the lead Senate sponsor.

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